Computer labs 'deliberately' flooded at Wits

Wits protestors. (File)
Wits protestors. (File)
Lizeka Tandwa

Johannesburg - Wit University's FNB computer lab was flooded as students disrupted classes when the institution's academic programme resumed on Monday morning.

Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel confirmed that the labs were flooded, and that two students were arrested. More information on the charges was not immediately available.

"It is [being] seen as deliberate - to get people out of the labs. We are reviewing the video footage,” said Patel.

Demonstrating students disrupted classes at three of the institution's campuses on Monday.

A large group which had gathered outside the Great Hall had gone to different classes to halt learning, this as they work toward shutting down the entire varsity in their demand for free education.

Students claim the institution is refusing to make concessions and just demanding that the academic programme resume.

Student engagements

Meanwhile #FeesMustFall leaders Mcebo Dlamini and Vuyani Pambo have, through the assistance of academics at the institution secured a path for students to march from the education campus to the main campus. Students are set hold a mass meeting there.

Academics, some with blue ribbons on their chests had throughout Monday morning assisted in keeping the peace between protesting students and police, often seen negotiating on their behalf.

The university said in a statement that management engaged several times with student leaders throughout last week, "to no avail".

"We are open to the idea of an imbizo, provided that it is a two way engagement, chaired by a neutral facilitator, with a specific time frame, and not in front of cameras. This imbizo should not impact on the academic programme," it said.

"No student will be barred from writing examinations because of unpaid fees."

It also said that amnesty would not be considered for anyone involved in "criminal activities".  

"The university has committed to the principle of working toward free education. We have no authority to implement this but are willing to advocate for support from relevant stakeholders.

"We urge students and staff to return to classes this week, even if disruptions occur. We understand that there may be disruptions, but we have no choice but to try to save the academic year," it said.

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