14 arrested for 'unlawful activities' at Wits

The group, who are not all students, have been detained on charges including malicious damage to property.

Wits University confirmed a bus was set alight outside one of its residences in Parktown, Johannesburg, on Wednesday night. Picture: iWitness

JOHANNESBURG - Wits University has confirmed 14 people have been arrested in connection with a number of unlawful activities on campus

The group, who are not all students, have been detained on charges including malicious damage to property and for the alleged torching of a bus which was destroyed earlier this week.

They've also been charged with attempted arson, malicious damage to property and setting a mattress alight at a university library.

The university says it has no choice but to rehire private security officials to protect students and staff from any threat.

But the institution denies claims that private security has used excessive force against protesting students.

The university's spokesperson Shirona Patel says that students were escorted out of the administrative block without any force.

"There is no evidence of this as campus security accompanied private security on campus. We went the police station and opened a case, and private security helped us escort them off campus."

Patel says criminal behaviour will not be tolerated on campus.

"The university had no choice but to have the individuals arrested. The activities we have witnessed in recent days are criminal activities. We can't tolerate criminal acts at our university."

At the same time, the #FeesMustFall movement has denied it played any role in the torching of a university bus which was transporting students.

The movement's Busisiwe Seabe says the organisation will not take responsibility for any allegations of arson.

"FeesMustFall does not know who burnt the bus, Wits FeesMustFall, specifically that those arrested individuals, aren't part of that incident."


Meanwhile, the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) strongly condemned the torching of one of the university's buses saying there are different avenues to express student frustrations.

On Wednesday night, a bus transporting students was petrol bombed outside the Knockando residence in Parktown.

This follows a flare-up of protests at the University of Cape Town this week, during which a bus and paintings were set on fire.

All occupants managed to evacuate the vehicle with no injuries.

The Wits SRC's Fasiha Hassan said it appears two students threw petrol bombs at the bus.

"We want to be clear on this... the SRC does not support any form of violence."

Hassan added that while the SRC is aware that there are students who remain frustrated by various issues including accommodation, torching a bus is not the way to go.