Wits set to reopen, despite some defiance

2016-10-04 06:33
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 - Lectures are expected to resume at the University of the Witwatersrand on Tuesday morning, following three weeks of student protests.

On Monday afternoon, former Wits SRC leader Mcebo Dlamini, one of those leading the Fees Must Fall protests, told students that the university would remain shut.

This was despite the outcome of a poll in which staff and students voted overwhelmingly to reopen the institution.

Vice chancellor Adam Habib said there would be police and a full security contingent on all campuses and in all buildings on Tuesday.

“We understand that it is not ideal to attend classes with police at the doors of learning, but we are left with no choice,” Habib said in a statement issued late on Monday.

Fees protests

Campuses across the country came to a standstill shortly after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande revealed in a highly-anticipated announcement on September 19, that universities could determine their own fee increases for 2017, as long as they did not exceed 8%.

The poor and “missing middle” would not have to pay the increase. This applied to about 70% of all undergraduates across the country, a R2bn shortfall that government had planned for.

Students were not impressed and took to the streets, shut down campuses and vandalised property to demand free tertiary education.

In Gauteng, violence broke out at Wits and the University of Johannesburg. A number of students were arrested during clashes with police and security guards.

Other universities

At the University of KwaZulu-Natal, several students were arrested for public violence and malicious damage to property and spent the weekend in police custody.

In the Eastern Cape, 11 Rhodes University students were arrested for contravening a court order barring them from protesting on campus. Others were arrested for disrupting a lecture and for contravening the Gatherings Act.

University of Limpopo students returned to their homes after the institution shut campus operations down. This was after protests on campus broke out, resulting in damage of around R100 000.

In the Western Cape, all classes at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology were suspended on Monday following disruptions at its Mowbray, Cape Town, Bellville, and Wellington campuses.

At the University of Cape Town, students maintained on Monday that the campus would remain closed until vice chancellor Max Price met them to discuss their demands and took their call for free, decolonised education to national leaders. This was despite the institution's announcement that classes had resumed. Six protesters were arrested earlier for disrupting a lecture.


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

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