Wits to stay open in spite of protests, rubber bullets

2016-10-11 21:33
A heavy police presence at Wits University. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

A heavy police presence at Wits University. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

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Johannesburg - Wits University resolved to open again on Wednesday, saying most lectures continued on Tuesday despite rubber bullets and a bomb scare on campus.

In a statement the university said students stoned cars outside the Wits management campus and tried to block the entrance with rocks.

One person was arrested and at the education campus a group of students who tried to disrupt lectures were escorted off the property by security.

The university said windows were smashed at the John Moffat Building, the Wartenweiler Library and the Matrix Student Centre. The institution's amphitheatre steps and the walls of the building were broken and pieces were thrown at security officials.

During lunch time there were confrontations between police and students outside the Wartenweiler Library and the Great Hall. Police used water cannons, stun guns, rubber bullets and teargas to disperse a few hundred people.

In the afternoon the FNB Building was evacuated after a suspicious parcel was found. Police with dogs declared that it was a firecracker. The building was cleared for use and reopened and campus officials are reviewing camera footage to find out who left it there.

Cycle of violence

Meanwhile, the university is continuing discussions with mediators to try and find a way forward.

"We apologise to all students and staff who are affected by these events. We thank you for your commitment and loyalty to the university during these difficult times," the university said.

"We would like this cycle of violence to stop immediately so that the community is not exposed to ongoing trauma. It is possible and in all our hands to restore normalcy, to complete the academic programme and to advocate for free, quality, fully funded, decolonised higher education."

Wits is among several universities countrywide which have seen normal services disrupted due to protesters' demands.

On Monday a bus was torched in the streets of Braamfontein near the university as the protests spread out. However, many protesting students have distanced themselves from the incident.

Read more on:    wits  |  johannesburg  |  university protests

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