Wits condemns death threat voice note

2016-10-05 16:36
Students supporting the Take Back Wits movement (Lerato Sejake, News24).

Students supporting the Take Back Wits movement (Lerato Sejake, News24).

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'We're not trying to undermine Fees Must Fall' - #TakeBackWits leader

2016-10-05 10:52

Wits is preparing for a mass meeting of protesting students in favour of shut-downs, at the same time as a 'Take Back Wits' gathering at the other end of the spectrum.WATCH

Johannesburg – Wits University’s management on Wednesday condemned the threat to "take the life of one white student" to get vice chancellor Adam Habib's attention. 

“We find the comments by these individuals abhorrent and will investigate all complaints received in this regard,” it said in a statement.

The warning was made in an anonymous voice note being circulated on social media. The university said it condemned all forms of hate speech and racism.

In the note, a woman explains how protesters against tertiary education fees were frustrated with Habib and had threatened to take a white student’s life.

“These Fees Must Fall protesters are saying that the way that Habib is handling this whole Fees Must Fall situation is very arrogant, and that is what is aggravating protesters even more.

“So they are saying that in order to get Habib’s attention, at least one white student must die. Whether male or female, but that’s the only way they feel they will get Habib to meet the demands of the protesters. So if these kids go on with this plan of action they have, then they are walking straight into an ambush,” she says.

The university said it was aware of the audio clip and that its security, lawyers, and police were investigating.

“We are aware of a voice clip that has been circulating on social media inciting violence against particular race groups. Please do not continue to share these clips. The information has been passed on and will be investigated,” it said.

On Wednesday morning, a group of Wits students calling for lectures to resume were met with harsh words when they marched from the West campus to the front of the Great Hall on the East campus.

While they sat on the floor in front of the hall, Fees Must Fall protesters arrived and chided them for not supporting the call for free higher education for all. Some described the Take Back Wits group as a “white” movement, whose members were privileged and did not care about blacks.

The group eventually retreated and made its way back to West campus, then dispersed.

Fees Must Fall protesters were on Wednesday afternoon meeting in Senate House, the main administration building on the East campus.

The university said it had reached some agreements with students through the help of mediators. These included that the academic programme would resume on Monday. Students undertook to work with management to save the rest of the 2016 academic year.

The university agreed to withdraw police from campuses. All parties agreed to end violence and intimidation of students and staff, and the destruction of property.

Lastly, all parties agreed to work towards holding a general assembly on Friday, where they would try to reach agreement on access to higher education, the university said.

Wits was revising the academic calendar and working on a new examinations timetable.


Read more on:    wits university  |  university protests  |  university fees

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