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Wits University targeted in overnight fires

It’s understood the fires were started with tyres being burnt at different parts of the campus.

Wits University has confirmed that a number of fires have been started on its Braamfontein campus overnight, with at least two vehicles torched and an attempt to set alight a bookshop in the student centre. Picture: @iHouseWits
Wits University,Wits fees must fall,Wits University protests,fire at Wits University
Local

JOHANNESBURG – Wits University has confirmed that a number of fires were started on its Braamfontein campus overnight, with at least two vehicles torched and an attempt to set alight a bookshop in the student centre. 


The university says it's had to call in security reinforcements this morning, while police and emergency services are also on standby. 

Wits will be reopening its doors today after days of ‘Fees Must Fall’ protests.

SECURITY BEEFED UP

This morning, campus control security guards are stationed at the entrance as well as the main intersections on the university’s roads inside the campus.

Along the pavements, debris from the protests last week can still be seen. 

There were also two students who attempted to block cars from driving up the main road, but they were taken away by campus security. 

Wits University has confirmed that a number of fires have been started on its Braamfontein campus overnight, with at least two vehicles torched and an attempt to set alight a bookshop in the student centre. Picture: @iHouseWits

The university says academic activities will resume today and has condemned, what it says are cowardly acts of vandalism.

The institution says it's studying surveillance footage to determine who’s behind the arson and says it's too early to say if it's linked to a group of students who want the protests over fees to continue.

Charred remains of books and tyres are scattered across the campus. 

Academic activity has officially resumed and while many students head to class a small group is attempting to restart the protest. 

They’ve been joined by the workers on campus, and some students say they’re fighting for better working conditions. 

Some of the students that EWN spoke to this morning say they’re relieved that campus is open again and want to prepare for exams.

Others say they continue to support the Fees Must Fall movement, but are concerned about losing bursaries and sponsorships. 

About 50 people are demonstrating at the student centre, where the bookshop window was broken.

Wits University has confirmed that a number of fires have been started on its Braamfontein campus overnight, with at least two vehicles torched and an attempt to set alight a bookshop in the student centre. Picture: @iHouseWits

Spokesperson Shirona Patel says the fires were started with tyres being burnt at different parts of the campus.

“There was one outside the law library, but fortunately our sprinklers extinguished that one. We had a tyre burning outside a bookshop in the student centre. Some of the books were taken out and they tried to burn those. But fortunately we got to it in time.”

UJ ACADEMIC PROGRAMME RESUMES

The academic programme has resumed at the University of Johannesburg this morning, with extra security measures being put in place to ensure students have access to the campus.

Students continued with their protest action on Monday, saying that despite a decision to scrap fee increases for next year, a number of other demands hadn't been met.

Both universities say the majority of the student's concerns have now been addressed.

Wits and UJ have released statements about their commitment to addressing a number of other issues as well as restoring the exam timetable.

Many students now want to proceed with the end of year exams while a small group wants to continue with protest action.

Patel says they expect lectures to resume today.

“We have additional security on campus so that people can come to campus and go to class without any fear.”

Meanwhile, there are reports that some student leaders at Wits were allegedly bribed by the African National Congress to end the protest, they have however been unavailable for comment.

WATCH: The day fees 'fell'

(Edited by Tamsin Wort)

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