Johannesburg - The Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) has advised students to use Thursday to “rest and recuperate” following three days of violent clashes with police and private security.
“We are disgusted by the brutal use of force by private security and police on our students. We are using all channels available to challenge this. Students should also use the opportunity to catch up on their academics. We will chant and pass at the same time,” it said in a statement on Thursday morning.
The SRC has also declared the university's campus health facility a “safe zone”.
Students have planned to meet once more for a mass meeting at Solomon Mahlangu House at 2pm on Thursday where they will discuss a way forward.
The University’s management also released a statement on Wednesday night, condemning Wednesday’s violence at the campus.
It said that despite all university activities being suspended, about 600 to 800 students continued to protest on its campuses and in Braamfontein on Wednesday.
“The police dispersed the group using stun grenades and rubber bullets. Students also confronted private security on Yale Road South. The police intervened and two students were arrested,” the university said.
It added that all university activities remain suspended for the rest of the week.
Following threats from some students, “catering, bus and cleaning services have also been suspended” at the university.
According to Wits, four students were injured during the clashes. Police also confirmed that an officer was lightly injured.
The two students arrested identified themselves to media as couple Zainub Patel and Chirag Janna. Both had their hands up when police approached and arrested them. However neither heeded several calls by police to get down on the floor.
“I didn't do anything. I did nothing wrong. I had nothing in my hands, no stones, no weapons nothing, I just wanted to talk to you,” Patel said as police forced them both down to the ground.
They were expected to appear in court on Thursday on a charge of public violence.
Students have been protesting since Monday after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that universities could decide on the fee increase for 2017 as long as it didn’t exceed eight percent.
He emphasised that students on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and the “missing middle” would not be affected by the increase which will be subsidised by government.