Police Fire Rubber Bullets During Wits Protest

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Students were caught off guard when their expected peaceful protest turned ugly as police started firing rubber bullets at them. Wits students are protesting to demand that financially excluded students be allowed to register.


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Several students who were participating in a protest to have their cries heard concerning registration have now been injured as a result of police firing rubber bullets.

Students of the University of the Witwatersrand, better known as Wits, were protesting on Tuesday to demand that the University allows that around 8000 students are registered, even though they cannot afford to pay student debt or the registration fee. These 8000 students are said to have been financially excluded.

The protest is said to have started off as peaceful but then turned into students forcing their way onto campus and causing damage to university property.

Police then arrived at the campus to monitor the situation.

After students were attempting to storm the campus, the police then took action. The police then arrested one student and several have been injured as police shot rubber bullets at them, without warning.

The deputy Student Representative Council at Wits has said that they do not know why police started shooting as they are protesting peacefully and that "if you go to the scene, you won't see any stones, you won't see any weapons, we are just standing going towards the gate and we were shot at".

There are no ambulances on sight to assist students as they were expecting to have a peaceful protest, said the Deputy SRC at Wits.

Gabriella Nechama Farber, who also forms part of the SRC, said:

Majority of us got fired with rubber bullets without warning. We were there at Med Campus singing peacefully. Not throwing anything, not destroying anything and there they went without warning and shot us with rubber bullets.

First years have also been injured.

Following the arrest of a student, students then marched to Hillbrow police station to demand that the student is released. 

There is said to have been between 50 and 70 students protesting. 

The Captain of the Gauteng Police, Mavela Masondo, said about the action:

To protect the property, to protect the premises, we had to use rubber bullets to disperse the crowd and we arrested one person after we opened a case.

The SRC believes that the academic year should not start until this issue is sorted and they are waiting for a meeting for two months with management.

Wits has said that they have assisted students through the Hardship Fund and that wiping historic debt would lead to the University being financially unsustainable.

 


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