Wits student protest continues as final registration day looms

2019-02-07 18:26

Hundreds of students at the University of the Witwatersrand were not deterred by the rain on Thursday as they continued their protest outside the Great Hall on the main campus.

The student representative council (SRC) shut down all operations at the institution on Wednesday when demonstrators disrupted classes and teaching.

There was an anxious moment when students tried to force their way inside the hall as it started to rain and they were met by private security guards.

When the guards blocked the crowds from entering, several demonstrators threw stones at them, which led to them calling for back up from police who were nearby.

When police intervened the protesters dispersed but later gathered again.

Earlier, SRC president Sisanda Aluta Mbolekwa addressed the crowd and told students that the institution's management team was in a meeting and would return to respond to their demands later in the day.

READ: Wits closes entrances as student injured in UJ, Wits protests

While some students left others stayed behind, saying it was important that they got feedback from management as Friday was the last day for registration.

"We need to fight for this because tomorrow (Friday) is the last day of registration, hence we are putting so much pressure. If students can't register by tomorrow it's over for them this year," said Zikhona Maloyi, who was wearing an EFF T-shirt.

Maloyi said while she had been lucky to register through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, and also secure accommodation, many of her friends slept in labs or sought refuge at Park Station nearby.

She said the situation regarding fees and accommodation at the institution was frustrating, especially for those students who knew that their parents could not afford to pay for their tuition and accommodation.

"When you can't come to school because your parents don't have the money, and you know there is no way they can raise R120 000 to R150 000, it really affects you," Maloyi said.

ALSO READ: Wits management investigating scuffle between protesters, private security

Second-year electrical engineering student Nimrod Teisho said he was frustrated because he didn't have a place to stay.

"Every day I am sleeping in a lab, I don't have accommodation, my funding has not come through and at 08:00 I need to go to class," Teisho said.

He added the students would continue protesting but were not going to damage any property.

Maloyi said she had been part of the crowd that blocked the university's entrances on Thursday morning. She claimed the police had fired teargas at the protesters.

"I was there when they opened fire. It is very terrifying when your own fellow black men open fire on you just because you want an education that they themselves cannot afford for their own children," said Maloyi.

By 16:30 operations were at a standstill as students camped outside Solomon Mahlangu House waiting on management to address them.

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Read more on:    wits university  |  university protests  |  higher education

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