Wits vice chancellor ejected from peace meeting

Johannesburg – University of Witwatersrand (Wits) Vice Chancellor Adam Habib on Wednesday expressed his disappointment after he was chased away from a peace accord meeting at a church in Braamfontein, Johannesburg by angry students.

Habib said he and his management team had been invited to the meeting by the Academic Staff Association of Wits University, the Holy Trinity Church and religious leaders.

Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib File picture: Nokuthula Mbatha. Credit: THE STAR

“We are disappointed that people felt that we should exit the peace meeting even after we had been invited to attend it,” Habib said in a statement.

“We remain committed to working with students and student leaders in trying to find solutions to issues, many of which can only be resolved at the national level. We recognise that passions are inflamed and that we should not take the reactions of some student leaders personally.”

The peace accord meeting was moved from the Holy Trinity Church to Solomon Mahlangu House on campus as the church was too small to accommodate the group of students.

Students shouted at Habib requesting him to leave after realising that he was part of the meeting. They called him a “sinner” and that he should release their leader, former Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini before he could speak to them.

Habib belonged in jail and not in church, the students shouted. Habib and his team then left the church.

Dlamini was refused bail on Wednesday by the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court. He faced five charges that included theft, damage to property and public violence.

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, Jay Naidoo and Holy Trinity Church’s Father Graham Pugin were scheduled to address the meeting.

Habib said the university remained committed to completing the 2016 academic year while at the same time trying to address higher education funding.

“We will continue to protect the University community to ensure that staff, students and our infrastructure are safe and that the academic programme continues,” he said.