Wits to issue suspension orders against protesters

University management says it has strengthened security in case Fees Must Fall protesters hit back.

Protesting students shut down the Wits Braamfontein campus on Monday, with some also vandalising university property. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Management at Wits University says it's in the process of issuing suspension orders against students who torched seats inside a lecture hall causing extensive damage.

Dozens of students from various universities descended on the Wits Braamfontein campus yesterday, disrupting classes.

They claim they have been excluded because they have not paid their fees.

The university management says it has strengthened security at its Braamfontein campus in case Fees Must Fall protesters hit back there this morning.

Campus security is examining CCTV footage to determine exactly who was involved.

The university's Shirona Patel says, "They're already in the process of issuing suspension orders to people who are Wits staff members or students."

Patel says they will also be barring students from other universities from entering the premises today.

"We won't step down on the security until things stabilise again."

She also says from their understanding, the students will be moving from one university to the next, where they will continue with their demonstrations.

Students from several institutions, including the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of Free State, say they are tired of continuously being excluded from varsities because of financial reasons.

Vuyani Pambo, a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters at Wits, says government treats criminals better than young people who are trying to make a better life for themselves through education.

"At least in jail we know we'll have shelter. At least in jail we know that they will give us books, we'll study for free."

Pambo says yesterday's violence at the institution was a mishap and should never have happened.

He says their message has been misconstrued.

"There's another hand here at play. We've never said we're going to destroy and collapse anything. All we want to collapse and destroy and burn is injustice."

The university's acting Vice-Chancellor Andrew Crouch says action will be taken against those implicated in yesterday's vandalism.

"We're in a process of also identifying several students who've been involved in criminal behaviour, such as arson."

Chumani Maxwele from UCT says he's disappointed.

"People are being chased away because there's no money to pay."

Wits management says students have not been excluded or deregistered, but were only notified to visit the accounts department to see what payment method will work for them.