Wits management disappointed that SRC broke signed agreement

2020-03-04 16:53
A view of Witwatersrand University commonly known as WITS University in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

A view of Witwatersrand University commonly known as WITS University in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. (Fani Mahuntsi, Gallo)

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Management at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) said it was disappointed after the Student Representative Council (SRC) embarked on protest action on Wednesday.

The protest was in spite of an agreement between management and the SRC signed on 10 February 2020.

"Wits University management is disappointed with the Wits SRC who have broken the attached agreement signed on 10 February. The University released R17 million to the Wits Hardship Fund to support those facing hardship and those in need of accommodation," spokesperson Buhle Zuma told News24 on Wednesday.

It came after a group of students took to the streets to protest for accommodation for students.

The student leadership shared visuals of students allegedly sleeping on the floor of what appears to be campus labs, due to a lack of accommodation.

The university said it had helped students with accommodation.

"To date, 800 students have been helped. Another 50 are being helped this morning as more beds from a private service provider have become available," Zuma added.

News24 has seen the signed agreement, which contains clear directives on matters relating to student registration and accommodation.

In the agreement signed by the SRC and the Dean of Students, 271 students who had been allowed re-admission and whose academic holds had been lifted would be allowed to register under certain conditions.

Included in the conditions were that they would submit applications to the Hardship Fund and the registration of applicants who were successful would stand. It added that should an application by a student not be successful, then the SRC had to approach the Finance and Student Affairs Department.

It also stated that the SRC would contribute their honorariums towards the Fund at the end of the year. It further clarified that this was a once-off arrangement and would not set a precedent.

With regard to accommodation, the SRC was expected to contribute R500 000 towards accommodation costs while the university would find an amount of R1.5 million.

In addition, the agreement stated that the SRC and the Student Affairs Department, in consultation with one another, would develop criteria and decide upon applications for more beds. 

"Despite the Wits SRC having broken this agreement, the Dean of Students Jerome Seppie is still willing to engage in order to resolve any further issues. 

"It is now up to the Wits SRC to show leadership in this regard," Zuma concluded.

Read more on:    wits  |  university protests

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