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Wits academics join student protests

Lecturers wearing their graduation robes are picketing outside the university’s Great Hall.

Wits University Academics add their voice to ongoing fee protests at the university. Picture: Dineo Bendile/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Members of the Wits academics staff association are staging a protest outside the university's Great Hall where they say they are extremely concerned about the cost of university study.

'No cops on campus', 'free education', and 'increase state subsidies' - all of these are placard messages written by Wits academic staff who say education is a right not a privilege.



Lecturers wearing their graduation robes are picketing outside the university's Great Hall.

They say public universities are being sent into crisis by inadequate funding and they're calling for intervention from both government and the private sector.

While lecturers demonstrate, the university is waiting to receive the results of a student survey which will determine whether classes will resume.

In the meantime, lecturers have called for police and private security to be removed from campus.

At the same time, Occupy Luthuli House leader Gugu Ndima says the current student protests speak to the existing inequalities in the country.

Last month, Ndima formed part of a faction in the African National Congress Youth League calling for President Jacob Zuma and the entire National Executive Committee to step down.

At least 10 universities across the country have been shut down amid calls for free education.

Ndima says while there are some upstanding members in the organisation, the African National Congress (ANC) is in need of a leadership change.

"The majority of people in the background and didn't want to join us, it's not because they are scared for their lives; they are people who are very content and comfortable with the privileges that come with being with an ANC leader."

Speaking on some of the proposed solutions to funding free education, she says the private sector needs to come on board.

"Someone needs fund free education, that's the reality and you can't do that without tampering with the current status quo of the economy - that 70 percent of the economy is in private hands."

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