Wits suspends more services after student threats

The university says it will continue to engage with student leaders over the matter of free education.

FILE: Protesting Wits University students are allowed into the Great Hall. Picture: Clement Manyathela/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Wits University says it's now decided to suspend the catering, bus and cleaning services on campus following threats by some students.

Yesterday, students and police clashed outside the Braamfontein campus as protests over fees continued.

After a marathon mass meeting-students marched around campus, mobilising workers and other students from residences.

Wits University says although it initially decided to keep catering, bus and cleaning services on campus when it suspended academic activities, it's now forced to suspend all services.

GALLERY: Protesting Wits students clash with police

Acting vice-chancellor Tawana Kupe says: "The violence that we've seen in society, we condemn that violence and we plead with everybody and ask them to move away from the violent part. We know what the issue is, there are other forms of advocacy around that."

While the university says it will continue to engage with student leaders, protesters are adamant they want free education and they want it now.

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says he's disappointed that students are protesting against his announcement on fee increments, saying those who are participating are either misinformed or deliberately trying to distort facts to suit their own agendas.

On Monday, Nzimande announced universities should decide on their own fee increases for the 2017 academic year but said these should not exceed 8%.

Wits University has been the hardest hit by the protests with police at the Braamfontein campus.

Nzimande has stressed that poor students and the so called missing middle, will benefit from government's decision.

"People are just, either, very misinformed or are deliberately trying to stop things to suit them. What disappoints me is that a small group of determined students, some of whom are acting in a very vandalistic manner to actually try and disrupt the academic programme."

Nzimande says students participating in protests over fee increments are being irresponsible and has urged those against the demonstrations to take a stand.

Nzimande has condemned the protests.

"It's time now that parents and society as a whole to stand against this attitude by these band of students who are hell-bent in destroying the futures and careers of our young people. Everyone must stand up and say no."