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Security at Wits beefed up after students vote to return to class

More than 21,000 students took part with over 16,000 students voted yes, while almost 5,000 voted no.

A member of the private security tasked to block students from entering Senate House on Wits University campus picks up a brick to throw back at protesting students. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Wits University says the majority of students who took part in its poll have voted to resume lectures.

More than 21,000 students took part in yesterday's poll, which asked whether they wanted th e academic programme to proceed on Monday, if appropriate security was in place.

Over 16,000 students voted yes, while almost 5,000 voted no.

Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel says additional security will be deployed on campus, unless students meet the university's safety conditions.

"There will be no disruptions to university activities; secondly our people will not be intimidated and thirdly, if anyone is caught doing that they will be suspended."

University council members have entered a meeting to discuss how to resolve protests that threaten to seriously affect the remainder of the academic calendar.

At the same time students are also holding their own meeting to reflect on their protest activities and discuss their plan of action.

STUDENTS: POLL HOLDS NO WEIGHT

Meanwhile, some Wits students say they believe a poll conducted by the university to determine whether students want academic activity to resume holds no weight.

They say wanting free higher education and wanting to go back to class aren't mutually exclusive feelings.

Protesting students say while they want to return to class, preventing the university from operating normally is the only bargaining power they have in their fight for free education.

Student leader Fasiha Hassan says there's no way the university poll can adequately reflect what students are thinking, by asking a basic "yes" or 'no" question.

"The way the question is phrased; I also would like to go back to class, but we can't go back to class until we're able to gain some victories for the student movement."

Yesterday, text messages were sent to 36,000 students who were asked whether they would like classes to resume today after they were suspended due to fees must fall protests.

Students will also discuss what implications the poll could have on their movement.

(Edited Masechaba Sefularo)

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