Wits, UCT to resume lectures this week

2016-10-02 18:41
NMMU students march over fees. (News24)

NMMU students march over fees. (News24)

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Johannesburg – The University of Witwatersrand and University of Cape Town are expected to resume academic activities after weeks of protests.  

In a statement issued on Sunday, Wits University said academic activities would resume on Tuesday and all staff members were expected back at work on Monday.

“The phased opening follows several engagements with a range of stakeholders, including students, where we ceded to requests for a phased opening this week,” Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said.

Patel said the university would bring additional security on campus.

“The presence of private security and police on campus is not ideal and we understand that students and academics are not comfortable with academic activities occurring in an environment with a visible security presence.

“However, we are left with no choice at this stage but to bring additional security onto campus. We will request the police to remain on the perimeter of the campus this week, unless there is a need to bring them onto campus, or there is risk to life or property,” Patel said.

She said the university would gradually reduce security presence provided that university activities continue without disruption, violence or intimidation to students and staff.

“We are willing to consider withdrawing private security and the police if the protesting students undertake not to impinge on the rights of those who wish to learn and work.”

Last Thursday, the university conducted a poll asking students and staff if they wanted to continue with classes on Monday.

The question that was asked during the poll related to whether they wanted the academic programme to proceed on Monday should appropriate security be in place.

Full report on Monday

Out of 21 730 people that voted, 77% voted yes.

A total number of 16 739 students are in favour of proceeding with their regular programme, with only 4 991 (23%) preferring that the university remain closed.

Auditing firm SizweNtsalubaGobodo, audited the poll and provided the interim results.

On Sunday, the university revealed the preliminary Staff poll results. Out of 2200 staff that responded, 91% were in favour of reopening on Monday, while 8% preferred not to reopen.  

About 1% of those who responded did so with a blank email.  

Patel said they were expecting the full report on Monday.   

Meanwhile, last Friday, UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price told a group of protesters that it was important to keep the campus open for those who needed to continue with their studies.  

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