A sit-in at Wits as calls for free education grow louder

Adam Habib says he doesn’t have the authority to overturn the council’s decision on the fee increase.

Wits University Vice Chancellor Adam Habib sat on the floor with protesting students on 16 October 2015. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Wits University students have now conceded vice chancellor Adam Habib is co-operating with them, but they have warned they will bring all learning to a stop if their concerns over next year's fee hike aren't addressed.

#Wits Students have moved to senate house. GN pic.twitter.com/Yl4xBuO6GW

Students have been demonstrating since early this morning, saying tertiary education should be accessible and another fee increase is out of the question.

They also say they want "free education" in their lifetime.

Habib says he doesn't have the authority to overturn the council's decision on the increase for 2016.

WATCH: Wits students block campus access points.

Incoming student representative council president Nompendulo Mkatshwa says Habib is co-operating.

"He's listening to students and is doing his best but we said him that he can't leave because if he leaves then he's not doing his best."

Habib is sitting on the floor in the Senate House surrounded by students, who have vowed to stay until the matter is resolved.

Meanwhile, higher education minister Blade Nzimande says he is growing increasingly concerned over the levels of disruptions at universities in the country.

"We wish for the situation to get resolved soon because we are concerned the levels of disruption that we see aren't sustainable in terms of some of the things we want to achieve."


The university says a closed council meeting to discuss fee increases is expected to get underway this evening.

The institution says it has arranged for councillors to convene this evening to resolve the issue.

#Wits Now: In great hall on campus- Students vow not to let VC Adam Habib go until emergency council meeting held. pic.twitter.com/ZUmNbpcs2m

Habib, who was meant to be in Durban with higher education officials, is still there surrounded by students saying he will wait with them and address the issue of fee increases with the councillors.

Police and campus security are closely monitoring the situation but so far there haven't been any major incidents.

At the same time, students say they are not holding Habib hostage and that they simply want their grievances addressed.

Mkatshwa says the vice chancellor has agreed that this isn't a "hostage situation".

"He's agreeing and saying you're not holding me hostage and I'm sitting here with you guys because that is what the students want. He is our vice chancellor and he should be listening to us."