#FeesMustFall: Clergy act as buffer in Wits protest

By Lesego Makgatho Time of article published Oct 12, 2016

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Johannesburg - On Wednesday morning a growing group of students at Wits University huddled in revolutionary song on the courtyard in front of the Great Hall.

Bishop Gary Rivas said the clergy were on campus on Wednesday morning to act as a buffer between students and the police.

“I've called the Methodist Church and clergy from different churches to be on campus today (Wednesday) as peacemakers. We are obviously very concerned about the level of violence that has been taking place on our campuses. We are making a call and asking for the police to leave campus. That has been a call from the church from the very beginning, (we are) asking for private security not to be involved on campus. Obviously they (the university) have a different view so in the meantime, police won't move off campus. We can't control all the elements and the retaliation but we have committed on standing as buffer zone between the students and the police. The church has been very clear that we stand against any form of violence and no matter where it comes from, we are against any form of retaliation and we remain committed to being peacemakers,” he said.

According to Wits spokesperson, Shirona Patel, there was a fire that was started in the basement of the John Moffet Architecture building on Wednesday night that was put out.

Police are still investigating as there was no damage aside from a broken window.

Early reports show that a petrol bomb may have been thrown through the basement window which started the fire in the building. Two others were found next to the building. Toilets were also also flooded in many bathrooms in buildings.

A bag of 3 petrol bombs was found at Raines gate on the west campus in a backpack, which is the same one taken to the Amic deck and Solomon House.

While a heavy presence of police remained on campus, the clergy walked around, talking and engaging with students while a group of students carried on singing revolutionary songs in front of the Great Hall.

Students and the clergy then made their way to Hilbrow Magistrate Court where the arrested students were to appear. All eight students who were arrested on Monday were released.

According to Patel, the majority of classes continued on Wednesday across all campuses without disruption, and with better attendance than Tuesday.

Wits has pledged its support for the goal of free, fully funded quality decolonised higher education. They also pledged to approach government with united voice for the realisation of this goal. They are also prepared to to support peaceful advocacy activities in this regard.

@ElleSego

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