Police fire stun grenades as Wits students assemble in front of Great Hall

The university has deployed heavy security this morning as it prepares to resume classes.

Students outside Wits University Great Hall look on as police move to restore calm after stun grenades were fired when some students refused to be moved away on 4 October 2016. Picture: Clement Manyathela/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Police have fired stun grenades to disperse a group of students gathered in front of Wits University's Great Hall this morning.

Authorities had earlier warned students that gathering in groups of more than 15 people was in contravention of the institution's court order.

At the same time, Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib has pleaded with protesting students to stand down and allow the academic programme to resume today.

Students are singing struggle songs in front of the Great Hall and say they want to access the building to collect their books.

The academic programme has resumed at the institution this morning amid a heavy police presence.

Students are adamant they will continue with their demonstration.

One student leader says police don't even want them to sing.

"We're standing here peacefully and singing but we're being told that singing is in contravention of the law."



Police have gone after protesting students they dispersed here after firing stun grenades. More officers are now gathered in front of the great hall together with private security.

Take a listen to what happened earlier when police dispersed protesting students who assembled.

Two students have been arrested. One of them is the fees must fall leader Busisiwe Seabe.

"We won't be deterred, we will continue to fight for free decolonized education, whether we're arrested or not."

The students say they want to access the Great Hall to collect their books so they can go to class.

But private security is guarding the building and is not allowing students access to it.

Meanwhile, Habib has pleaded with protesting students to stand down and allow the academic programme to resume.

Habib says following yesterday's higher education fees forum, there's a certain level of acceptance from the department that tertiary institutions have been underfunded for a long time.

He says vice-chancellors will also review the proposed funding model presented at the meeting yesterday but will need some income to maintain the quality of universities.

Habib says he doesn't understand why demonstrations are continuing because protesting students have admitted their demands can't be met overnight.

"The students and the protesters have slapped me repeatedly. We know you can't deliver on what we want, then why do you disrupt and block the academic programmes? Why do you have to paralyse our universities when you know we can't deliver?"

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