Wits Students Protest For Students To Register

wits

The Student Representative Council at the University of the Witwatersrand, better known as Wits, have taken to the streets to protest for students who risk financial exclusion to be able to register. The issue of historical debt has been plaguing higher education for ages and often brings about protest action.

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Wits students are stepping up and protesting against their University pleading that students who have historical debt be allowed to register as they risk financial exclusion.

The SRC is demanding that students be allowed to register. 

Students from the Central Johannesburg TVET College participated in the protest as well.

The Student Representative Council (SRC) at the University said:

The University cannot be allowed to continue as usual when 8142 students are facing exclusion. We will continue to fight until those students register. Let us all join together in fighting an educational system which seeks to commercialize education. We won't rest until our students register.

On Tuesday, they were protesting in Milpark as they marched through the Johannesburg CBD and were disrupting traffic. The students have also blocked Empire Road with rubble at the M1 bridge near Wits.

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 have arrived at the campus to monitor the situation. Police have arrested one student and several have been injured as police have shot rubber bullets at them.

There are no ambulances on sight to assist students.

The deputy SRC 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".

SRC member Kanakana Mudzanani told EWN:

We have now brought activities on campus to a total shut down, we have disrupted exams, we have gone as far as closing classes and what we have realised that in doing so, the university was not in adherence to COVID regulations.

An onlooker said, "They were quite aggressive so we stopped, and a few people came up to the cars with bricks in their hands and were threatening some of the drivers that if they dared passed, they would do something about it."

Wits' Spokesperson Shirona Patel has responded to the protest action for registration and told Radio 702:

More than 95% of our students have registered and have also extended our registration period. We have also provided R50-million to help those who have been affected by Covid-19 to register. The majority of our programmes are online and we have registered 96% of the students.

eNCA reported that protests began last week already after videos showing bad accommodation issues at the University surfaced. The SRC then demanded that students be provided with better accommodation.

On accommodation at the University, Patel said, "Regarding accommodation, we are giving preference to first-year and female students. We won't allow students to share rooms due to Covid-19 restrictions."

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