Habib disappointed Wits students want to continue protests

Spokesperson Shirona Patel says the students are demanding an end to the outsourcing of support staff.

Wits University vice chancellor Adam Habib stands surrounded by students during a third day of protests at the institution over proposed tuition fee increases on 16 October 2015. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Wits University Vice Chancellor Adam Habib says he's disappointed that students want to continue their protests and says it will jeopardise the academic future of many who can't afford to repeat the year.

Last night, the university management announced that all university activities will remain suspended on tomorrow after a reaching a deadlock in talks with the students.

On Friday, President Jacob Zuma announced a zero percent fee increase for the 2016 academic year.

The nationwide Fees Must Fall campaign began at Wits a week and a half ago with students rejecting a 10,5 percent increase in fees for 2016.

Spokesperson Shirona Patel says the students are demanding an end to the outsourcing of support staff.

"At the same time we don't want to throw away the whole academic year. This will just obviously increase the inequality in our society, we'll have less graduates out there.

"People will have to find money to fund another year. Come write the examinations and at the same time let's open a parallel process where we can negotiate all the outstanding issues."

Habib has called on students to engage in parallel negotiations with management and allow exams to go ahead as planned.

Patel says students are concerned that not all their demands were met.

"He also says that a meeting of Senate will be called on Monday, now Senate is the highest the academic decision making body of the university and Senate will deliberate on the firstly the protests and ways to resume the academic programme."

In Cape Town, management at the University of the Western Cape will address students' concerns as the Fees Must Fall shut down continues at the institution.

In a statement, vice-chancellor Tyrone Pretorius says the institution will discuss national government's zero percent proposals with its council.

He adds they also want to evaluate the impact it will have on the university.

Pretorius also says he's aware the fee increment was not the students' only demand and that the management is working on dealing with the others.

He says he's awaiting a formal memorandum from their leaders which will also be discussed by the rest of management.


The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa says the students arrested at the Union Buildings during the Fees Must Fall campaign must be released with a warning as soon as possible.

Police have confirmed that a total of seven people were arrested on Friday for suspected stolen property and public violence.

The students were arrested during clashes between police and protesters, which saw tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades being used to disperse crowds.

Protesters were also seen damaging the fences around the Union Buildings and burning portable toilets and vehicles beyond recognition.

Police have declined to comment but attorney Kea Thobakgale says they were detained for 12 hours at the station without being issued a docket.

"The attempt is to try and get them out as soon as possible, so depending on the charge, it will be either on a warning or some sort of bail. And another thing that one of the students was telling us that he's got an assignment on Monday and of course now he's behind bars."