844 Wits University's Student Representative Council (SRC) has staged a major protest early Wednesday morning against the 10.5% fee increase Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso
844 Wits University's Student Representative Council (SRC) has staged a major protest early Wednesday morning against the 10.5% fee increase Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso

Wits students slam demonstrations

By Getrude Makhafola Time of article published Oct 15, 2015

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Johannesburg - Witwatersrand University students who chose not to take part in demonstrations against planned tuition fee increase said they supported the protest, but deplored the disruption of lectures on Thursday.

Protests entered second day at the institution as students prevented vehicles from entering the premises.

A group of protesters went into one of the buildings in campus, forcing those in classes to abandon lectures.

Actuarial science student Dennis De-Geovin said he was unimpressed by the demonstrators.

“I support their cause, yes the fees are high already, but at the end of the day the protesters need the students’ support to be successful. I don’t see disrupting lectures helping them in any way,” he said.

“I am going to wait for the next lecture as it is important … I cannot miss it.”

Another student, who only identified himself as Andile, said he had work to do. He was preparing for his mechanical engineering examinations due to start early next month.

“I have an assignment to submit tomorrow hence I am not part of the protests. Looking at what is happening in campus now, I disagree with disruptions. I try to stay away from violent situations, although I support their fight against the fee increase.”

There were other means available for demonstrators to make their voices heard, instead of blocking campus entrances, said Andile.

The institution’s entrances saw groups of protesting students gathering from early morning, preventing vehicles from entering the campus.

The protesters had taken to social media, and the hashtag #WitsFeeMustFall garnering support from users, especially on Twitter.

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) said on Thursday is supported the students and condemned the planned fee increase.

“We will not accept an increment of 6 percent whilst students are currently paying R 9 500.00 for registration at the beginning of the year,” said the ANCYL.

“We reject the 9.4 percent increment of residence fees whilst students are currently paying an average R 50 000.00 per annum, and we will never accept the reactionary suggestion that students must be subjected to 10.5 percent overall fee increment.”

The ANCYL called on the university council to meet with student leaders and resolve impasse.

In a statement released on Thursday Wits acting Vice Chancellor Andrew Crouch said the institution was available to talks with the student leaders.

“We are also open to talking to the students and other groups who are protesting in order to find an amicable solution to this matter. This offer has been made to the students,” Crouch said.

He added that campus security, with the help of the police, were ensuring students and staff safety.

“We are working on clearing these entrances as quickly as we can, and if needs be with the assistance of the South African Police Services. We have consulted with SAPS on our respective roles and the SAPS has agreed to manage the parameter security,” said Crouch.

“They will assist the University in allowing students, staff and visitors to move freely on and off our campuses. We will inform you as soon as these gates are open.”

Vice Chancellor and Principal, Adam Habib is attending the Summit on Higher Education in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

African News Agency

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