Wits security accused of brutality against protesting students

Two students were arrested after police used stun grenades to disperse a crowd gathered at the Great Hall.

Wits University deployed heavy police presence on all its campuses following ongoing student protests over free education. Picture: Clement Manyathela/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - A private security company being used to monitor Wits University this morning has been accused of using unnecessary force on protesting students.

Two students were arrested after police used stun grenades to disperse a crowd gathered at the Great Hall.

They were singing and trying to negotiate their way onto the premises, saying they wanted to collect their books.

But police warned them they were not allowed to gather in groups of more than 15.



Private security have formed a barrier at the entrance of the Great Hall at Wits, while police keep a watchful eye on the campus.

Academic activity has resumed despite the disruptions.

Earlier, police fired rubber bullets to disperse a group of students that had gathered, singing struggle songs.

One lecturer says police are being brutal towards students.

"I mean what are we trying to do? Universities should be places or freedom and autonomy."

There are appears to be calm for now, with no sign of protesting students.

At the same time, Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib says while his counterparts at other universities review the funding model at universities students also need to be willing to compromise.

Habib has commended government's commitment to paying fees for students who do not qualify for funding.

He says the students must understand that their demands for free education cannot be met immediately and a timeline is possible.

"I think that it is possible to put such programme together but I don't think you can decide on deadlines arbitrarily. Some of the protesters sent me the module for free education and I was sitting in the podium. They asked if I'd endorse it but I told them that I can't endorse something I haven't read."

LISTEN: Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib reacts to student protests

The students are marching around the campus singing struggle songs despite a warning from police to refrain from demonstrating.

They are currently walking through the campus, calling on other students and workers to join the demonstration.