Violent protest at Wits University continues into its fifth week

The violent protest at Wits University continues into its fifth week.

With the academic programme continuing, several incidents have been reported. Senior communications officer for Wits University, Shirona Patel said in a media statement that on 21 October four students tried to disrupt a lecture in the New Commerce Building and set off a firecracker in a lecture in the FNB Building. She added that the lecturer and students continued with the lecture outside the venue. Campus control will be following up on the matter.

She added that on the evening of 20 October, several lectures were disrupted on the West campus and two cars were also overturned by protesting students on the Wits Braamfontein campus.

Patel explained that the police were investigating two cases of arson after two cars were set on fire. “Video footage shows that three suspects were involved in this incident. One person broke the window of the car, poured a flammable substance in through the window and set it alight. It exploded immediately and it appears that the suspect collapsed and was thrown to the ground. He was carried away by two other individuals,” she said.

She explained that due to recent events, Wits management has decided to keep the curfew in place which restricts movement on Wits campus after 10pm. “The alternative is to shut down the University which will impact adversely on the lives of 36 000 students, thousands of staff members and the 7 000 first-year students that we need to welcome in 2017.

“While there are some who would like to see the 2016 academic programme sacrificed, we cannot allow this to happen. We will continue to fulfil our mandate, to respect the wishes of the majority who want to complete the year and we will continue to persevere until the year is complete.”

Gaahele Mokgoro

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