Traffic flow back to normal in Empire Road, Joburg, after protests - JMPD

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Students protest on Empire Road.
Students protest on Empire Road.
Twitter, @Wits_SRC
  • Wits Students caused traffic delays while they protested in Empire Road.
  • The students say that they are protesting against the non-registration of those students who have debt.
  • Wits says it has made concessions for students but the SRC continues to make demands.

Wits students caused traffic delays on Tuesday when they protested against the non-registration of students who owe the university money.

READ | Wits SRC embarks on R21m fundraising campaign to help students at risk of financial exclusion

However, the traffic flow is back to normal in Empire Road, Johannesburg.

"Students were blocking Empire Road and Yale Road outside Wits University at approximately 06:00 to 07:00 [on Tuesday].

"The students said they are protesting against the non-registration of those students who had debt," Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) spokesperson Wayne Minnaar told News24.

Students then moved to the Wits campus, next door to Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

"Officers are busy monitoring the situation," Minnaar added.

Gauteng police are yet to confirm whether they have arrested anyone as a result of the protest.

When approached for comment, Wits sent an update, dated 4 March 2021, on the meeting between management and the student representative council (SRC) on Wednesday evening to engage on issues related to student debt.

The institution's senior executive team noted that Wits' "budget is finite and under severe pressure at the moment, and management cannot accede to all the SRC's demands if the university is to remain sustainable". 

They added that about 27 000 of the university's 37 500 students relied on some form of financial aid, scholarship or bursary. Wits administers more than R1 billion in financial aid and scholarships every year.

The institution added that despite the long list of concessions made to help students mitigate the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic, "the SRC continues to make further demands of the university."

However, the SRC says this is not the case.

"They did not make any concessions other than extending the registration dates; we want all students to be allowed to register, they must figure out a solution - it is unfair that is why we are fighting," SRC deputy president Sthembiso Dabula told News24 on Tuesday afternoon.

"The claim that 27 000 students are funded, it does not make sense. It is not true because if they were, we wouldn't be here protesting," she added.

This is a developing story.

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