Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wits  Opens Classes on Wednesday

Students give members of the police flowers as a peace offering,  4 October 2016, at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Violent clashes broke out between police and protesters when students marched through campus disrupting the academic program. Picture: Alaister Russell

Confrontations between police and students took place outside the Wartenweiler Library and the Great Hall during the lunch hour.

The University of Witwatersrand (Wits) has on Tuesday, vowed to keep the doors of teaching and learning open, despite clashes between the police and protesting students.

The university said that the academic programme would continue on Wednesday.

Wits senior executive team said the majority of academic programmes went ahead across all the university campuses on Tuesday, despite protesting students once again clashing with the police as their protest for free education turned violent at around midday.

Students stoned cars outside the Wits Management Campus on Tuesday morning, and tried to block the entrance with rocks. The police acted and one person was apprehended.

A group of students who tried to disrupt lectures on the Wits Education Campus were escorted off the campus by security.

Windows were smashed at the John Moffat Building, the Wartenweiler Library and the Matrix Student Centre at the main campus in Braamfontein.

Protesting students also broke the amphitheatre steps and walls of the building and some of them threw it at security officials.

Confrontations between police and students took place outside the Wartenweiler Library and the Great Hall during the lunch hour.

Police had to use water cannons, stun grenades, rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the crowd of a few hundred protesters.

“A suspicious parcel was also found this afternoon in the FNB Building and all students and staff were evacuated. Police with sniffer dogs were called to the scene and they determined that it was a firecracker,” Wits said in a statement.

“The building has been cleared for use and has been reopened. We are reviewing camera footage to try to track down the person who left the package in the building.”

Wits senior executive team said the university was continuing to reach out to students and student leaders, and were also in ongoing discussions with mediators, in a bid to find a way forward.

“We apologise to all students and staff who are affected by these events. We thank you for your commitment and loyalty to the University during these difficult times.”

The protest entered its fourth week on Tuesday as tertiary students are demanding free education under the campaign #FeesMustFall.

Their protest began after Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, announced on September 19, that universities could decide on their own whether to hike the fees for 2017, but should not exceed eight percent.

On Monday, clashes spilled out to the streets of Braamfontein after students pelted private security guards with stones at the main campus. A bus was later set alight in Braamfontein and a clothing  shop was looted.

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