Wits closes entrances as student injured in UJ, Wits protests

All entrances to the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) have been closed to avoid protests from EFF-aligned students, believed to be from the University of Johannesburg (UJ). 

"We closed [the entrances] so that the external EFF-aligned protesters marching to UJ do not enter our campuses. They have moved to UJ now," Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel told News24.

A group of students, clad in red, marched through Kingsway Avenue to UJ's Kingsway Campus in Auckland Park on Wednesday. 

The group initially started at Wits and after they were barred from entering its Braamfontein campus, made their way back to Auckland Park.

READ: Wits SRC vows to shut down main campus over student debt and accommodation 

Clashes erupted when a group of security personnel confronted them.

Students threw stones and bricks at the guards, who retaliated. Teargas canisters were discharged and the students fled.

One student was injured on his head when he was caught in the crossfire. The student identified himself only as Thabo and was bleeding from his forehead and the back of his head. Paramedics took him away.

Some UJ students were stranded in the parking lot and a few students took refuge at a nearby public transport station.

By early evening, the situation had calmed down after protesting students dispersed from the scene.

Meanwhile, back at Wits, members of the student representative council (SRC) continued with their second day of a hunger strike at Solomon Mahlangu House (the institution's administration block).

However, SRC president Sisanda Aluta Mbolekwa said attendance was poor, saying students feared intimidation from private security guards who had been deployed to the campus. 

"What we found was that the support that we had had from students the day before, was not present today in the same capacity that it had been, because of the level of brutality that students have been facing from private security," Mbolekwa said.

'For now the fight goes...'

Mbolekwa said the SRC met with the university's vice-principal, Professor Andrew Crouch, who told them that management was finding ways to mitigate problems students faced.

But students vowed to continue protesting until their demands were recorded on paper and implemented.

"For now the fight goes on until all students are registered and have found accommodation," Mbolekwa said. 

Some staff members also joined the protest in solidarity with the students. 

"We had called on the workers to show solidarity. You must understand that our struggle is theirs and theirs is ours," Mbolekwa said.

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