Wits university cleaner dies during protests

2016-09-26 19:15
Police vehicles parked outside the Wits Great Hall (Tshidi Madia, News24)

Police vehicles parked outside the Wits Great Hall (Tshidi Madia, News24)

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Johannesburg - A cleaner at Wits University died on Tuesday following an asthma attack when students released a fire extinguisher in Jubilee Hall, the institution's spokesperson Shirona Patel confirmed. 

"The university has received a report that an employee of one of our service providers who worked in a [campus] residence passed away last week," Patel said in a statement.

"The worker was rushed to the campus health and wellness centre and then taken to hospital where the worker was treated for a few days."

The worker was discharged from hospital and then passed away, Patel said.

The cause of death is still to be determined.

"The university is awaiting a report from the service provider before commenting further. Our deepest sympathies are extended to the family, friends and colleagues of the worker."

Wits University students started protesting over free education last week following Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande's pronouncement that universities could decide on fee increments for 2017 as long as they were capped at 8%.

Several students were arrested after clashing with police. Students threw stones at police during the protest. Students also marched to Cosatu House to urge the federation to mobilise workers to join their protests. 

Wits University has requested the help of the IEC in conducting a poll which will gauge how many students and staff want its academic programme to resume. Students are demanding free education for all from 2017. 

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