Wits shut down: SRC disrupts learning, but management determined to continue operations

2019-02-07 14:36
Hundreds of Wits students gather outside the Great Hall. (Sesona Ngqakamba, News24)

Hundreds of Wits students gather outside the Great Hall. (Sesona Ngqakamba, News24)

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The University of Witwatersrand's student representative council claims it has shut down the institution, but the university's management says activities will continue despite disruptions.

Earlier on Thursday morning, protesters used rocks to block the Yale Road entrance and threw rubbish across parts of the campus. They want the institution to adhere to their demands, which relate to accommodation, registration fees and financial exclusion.

READ: Entrances blocked rubbish scattered as protesting students bring learning to a standstill at Wits

Following disruptions of lectures and other operations on campus, students from the EFF Students Command, Sasco and a group of staff members gathered outside the Great Hall on campus. 

SRC president Sisanda Aluta Mbolekwa told the crowd that the council would meet to engage further with management. The protesters said they would wait for management to address them instead of the SRC.

In a statement on its Twitter page, Wits said it was of the view that those who were shutting down operations were not serving the students' best interests.

"Their aim is to disrupt learning and to hold higher education institutions to ransom in order to advance their own political agenda. Their agenda has nothing to do with free education but is rather a deliberate attempt to destabilise our university," the Wits senior executive team said. 

"We need to expose these persons who are today on our campus trying to disrupt our lectures and to shut down our campuses. We need to expose them, suspend them if they are students and have them arrested if they are threatening people, infringing on the rights of others to learn and work, and damaging property." 

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

The university said it would not allow the future of 32 000 registered students to be held to ransom.

It maintained that all university activities would continue despite the disruptions. 

"The university is working with our own security, private security and the South African Police Service to keep the academic programme on track and all university services running. Forgive us if there are minor disruptions or delays – we cannot be held to ransom by a few selfish individuals," it said. 

It said it was still open to negotiations with the SRC and has been working tirelessly for the last few years to address the challenges in higher education.

After waiting two hours to be addressed, the dean of students told protesters that management was locked in a meeting and would only address them after that.

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