Wits hunger strike students to shut down the university if demands not met

Students involved in a hunger strike are seen at Wits University while a group march in solidarity around the campus, 5 February 2019, as they call on the university to listen to their demands relating to accommodation, registration fees and financial exclusion. A student was injured earlier when a scuffle broke out between security and the protesters. Picture: Michel Bega

Students involved in a hunger strike are seen at Wits University while a group march in solidarity around the campus, 5 February 2019, as they call on the university to listen to their demands relating to accommodation, registration fees and financial exclusion. A student was injured earlier when a scuffle broke out between security and the protesters. Picture: Michel Bega

They are refusing to pay outstanding fees, but the university says it needs the money to stay viable.

The students at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) who embarked on a hunger strike on Tuesday said there would be a total shutdown if their demands were not met.

Students embarked on a second day of hunger strikes demanding that classes be halted until financial grievances were addressed.

Security guards look on as students at Wits University march around campus, 5 February 2019, in solidarity with a group of other students partaking in a hunger strike calling on the university to listen to their demands relating to accommodation, registration fees and financial exclusion. A student was injured earlier when a scuffle broke out between security and the protesters. Picture: Michel Bega

This comes after the students were told by university management that those with outstanding fees could not register for their studies this academic year.

“We are demanding that those who owe R100,000 or less be registered immediately, and we are giving them time to fix it before the end of this week or there will be a shutdown,” Wits students’ representative council (SRC) president Sisanda Mbolekwa said.

Mbolekwa said their hunger strike was peaceful and they were surprised to see that the university management called in armed security guards to deal with them. The university had stepped up security on campus while students embarked on a hunger strike.

Students at Wits University march around campus, 5 February 2019, in solidarity with a group of other students partaking in a hunger strike calling on the university to listen to their demands relating to accommodation, registration fees and financial exclusion. A student was injured earlier when a scuffle broke out between security and the protesters. Picture: Michel Bega

Wits vice-principal Prof Andrew Crouch said the university was doing their best to assist students.

He said allowing students with debts of R100,000 or less to register would bring the university to a financial crisis.

Fees Must Fall activist Mcebo Dlamini was at Wits to support the SRC and student activists who had embarked on the hunger strike. He asked university management to chase the security away.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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