Habib ‘not responding’ to demands
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Johannesburg - Protesting students at Witwatersrand University have vowed to continue demonstrating until vice chancellor and principal Adam Habib agrees to respond to their demands.
Protests entered a second day at the institution as students prevented vehicles from entering the premises.
“Habib is everywhere talking to the media but is not responding to our demands. We will not move until he comes and agree to talk to us,” said Wits SRC secretary Fasiha Hassan.
The students were demonstrating against a 10.5 percent increase in tuition fee and 6 percent increase in registration fees.
The institution’s entrances saw groups of protesting students gathering from early morning.
Hassan said several buses transporting students had managed to make it into campus before protesters could reach the gates.
Lectures were disrupted despite the university insisting on Thursday morning that classes would continue as normal. A few students who trekked onto campus walked back home from as early as 8.30am.
One student who had been trying to leave the university in his Subaru slept in his front seat while four protesters sat in front of his car, blocking his exit.
Police began to arrive outside both gates shortly before 9am, and told students they had two minutes to disperse.
But 30 minutes later, no one had moved.
At the Empire Road gate, students sang “we nyamazana siyaya bo… we nyamazana siyaya bo… yile toitoi… noma besi dubula… noma be sishaya” (we are going forward with the struggle even if they shoot us… even if they beat us up)”.
One staff member, Nicole Barnes, who works in the campus health clinic, was visibly frustrated.
“I’m disgusted,” she said. “Our students are preparing for exams. A lot of students have moved heaven and earth to pay the fees,” she said, adding that it was contradictory to the group’s goal for them to be denying other students their right to education.
However, two third-year students who walked onto campus on Thursday morning were more sympathetic. They smiled and danced as they passed the students blocking the gate.
The protesters say they plan to block the gates for the entire day without pause.
Wits vice-principal and deputy vice chancellor for academics Professor Andrew Crouch said: “If the student protest continues, additional security will be deployed and the SAPS will be on standby to ensure that staff and students will have access to our campuses. Additional security will be put in place at all campus entry and exit points.”
The Star and ANA