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Protesting Wits students disrupt classes

Earlier today, several arrests were made on campus after the main entrance to the university was blocked.

A student leader at Wits University addesses the crowd outside the science dept after the announcement of an 8% increase in fees by Min of Higher Education Nzimande. Picture: Nina Leslie/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Protesting Wits University students are adamant that no academic programmes will continue as planned at the institution today and some are now disrupting classes.

Earlier today, several arrests were made on campus after the main entrance to the university was blocked.

Yesterday, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that universities will be free to implement their own fee increases for 2017, which will be capped at eight percent.

Students moved from one lecture to another calling the students inside "sell outs".

Shops in the Matrix were also seen closing as students continue to try to shut down the campus.

Wits' outgoing SRC president Nompendule Mkhatshwa says: "I'm disgusted by the level of militarisation of this campus.



"Wits students are not violent. Never have they burnt anything and we've proven that when protests on this campus are led by the SRC, the protests will always be peaceful and we'll always find amicable ways to resolve the situation."



They say the academic program will not continue until their demand for free education is realised.

Student leaders say 31 students have been arrested and taken to the Hillbrow police station.

KEEP FEES INTERESTS MILD

NGO, Universities South Africa, has urged student leaders to keep the academic interests of the majority of students in mind as they consider their response to the move to hike tuition fees.

Nzimande also committed government to settling the difference to ensure poor and working class students continue paying 2015 rates.

Universities South Africa's Ahmed Bawa says this initiative is an interim solution pending the outcome of the Fees Commission of Inquiry.

"We hope that the student leaders will understand the responsibility that they bear as well to ensure that they speak for the majority of the students, that they try to ensure that students do have a chance to complete the academic year."

Nzimande says while students have the right to protest he urged them to consider the economic constraints this decision was made under.

"They have a duty to understand that we're a highly unequal country, we think this coverage is actually covering a larger number of parents."

Treasury will have to find an estimated R2.6-billion to fund this intervention.

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