Witwatersrand University (Wits) management on Tuesday said that despite disruptions that occurred on campus, the academic programme would be reopened.
“Thank you for bearing with us today, a very difficult day for the university. Thank you to those who worked, attended lectures and supported us this week. We were partially successful today and the academic programme will reopen again tomorrow,” Wits senior executives said in a statement.
Senior executives of the university said that they were currently involved in talks with students through former Student Representative Council (SRC) presidents and the clergy in an attempt to reach a negotiated settlement with protesting students.
Wits spokesperson Sherona Patel said the former SRC presidents included Economic Freedom Fighters’ national chairperson Advocate Dali Mpofu, and deputy chairperson of the Electoral Commission of South Africa Terry Tselane. At 8.16pm, she said they were still in the meeting to try and mediate between students and management.
University management said the academic programme would resume on Wednesday because a majority of students and staff wanted to resume with classes.
On Monday, protesting students declared that Wits would not be opened until their demand for free education was met, despite previously agreeing with management to resume with the academic programme.
Following the violence that erupted on Tuesday, TransformSA Higher Education spokesperson, Magedi Jonas, said that they would support students in their struggle to getting free education.
“Our silence on the current crisis in higher education will amount to nothing but betrayal to the future of our children. It is time for every citizen (workers, the unemployed and students) to raise their voice against the brutal attacks directed at our fellow brothers and sisters who are fighting for free education in the country,” Jonas said in a statement.
The protests, which could result in the university possibly shutting down the 2016 academic year, started more than two weeks ago after Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande announced that state universities could hike next year’s fees, but that it would be capped at eight percent.
Jonas said that South African universities, like many universities across the world, had not been designed to advance the interests of the downtrodden and marginalised people in society but to maintain the oppressive system that kept enriching the two percent and subjecting the 98 percent to wage labour.
“This debt-based higher education is an onslaught on the social mobility and perpetuates inequality in society.”
TransformSA has called upon Nzimande to dissolve the Wits Council as it had failed to ensure stability and sound governance but has reduced Wits to a “police war zone” saying their interest was to protect the interests of corporations and not the people.
– African News Agency (ANA)