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Wits to reinforce security to protect staff & students

Wits is willing to reduce security if protesting students give assurances they won’t disrupt classes.

A University of Pretoria student holds up a placard during protests on the institution’s Hatfield campus over possible university fee hikes for the 2017 academic year. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Wits University says while it understands the presence of additional security on campus isn't ideal, it has no choice but to use reinforcements to protect staff and students.

Academic activity will resume today as part of the university's attempts to save the 2016 academic year.

The institution has seen disruptive protests as part of student efforts to secure free higher education.

Wits management says it has no choice but to bring additional security on campus and to ask police to remain close by.

The university says it's willing to reduce the heavy security presence if protesting students can assure they won't disrupt classes or intimidate anyone who chooses to continue with the academic programme.

The university's Shirona Patel says, "Anyone who breaks the university rules or infringes on the rights of others to learn and work will be held accountable."

But student leaders say management is daydreaming if it believes those calling for free education will abandon their cause and go back to class.

The institution says it's not opposed to calls for free education for the poor and missing middle and only wants constructive discussion on the matter.

Meanwhile, University of Cape Town (UCT) announced that it will resume its academic programme tomorrow after several weeks of fees must fall protests.

UCT Vice-Chancellor Max Price said the year's programme can be completed if classes resume tomorrow.

Last week, an opinion poll has showed that more than 16,000 students want lectures to resume.