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Wits students reconvene after release of detained students

Five students including a fees must fall leader were arrested following several confrontations with police.

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 - While Wits University management prepares to meet this hour, to discuss the future of the 2016 academic year, protesting students are making their way back to campus after the release of their classmates from the Hillbrow police station.

Five students including a Fees Must Fall leader were arrested following several confrontations with police.



A lecturer, two officers, at least one journalist and several demonstrators were injured during running battles which saw officers opening fire with rubber bullets and stun grenades, and students pelted rocks and stones at authorities.

Some female protesters took off their tops and bras outside the great hall, demanding that officers stop firing.

Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib says discussions are underway to decide whether to open the university tomorrow, and he's been trying to negotiate with protesting students to allow the academic programme to continue.

Habib says he's offered support to the protesters saying he will rally behind their call for free education, but they cannot allow the academic program to come to a halt.

He says they cannot protect the campus without support.

"I would have loved not to have private security and the police. I asked protesters, 'give me assurance that you won't be violent and you won't be disrupting the programme', and they refused to do."



At the same time, Advocate Dali Mpofu, who helped release students who were apprehended, says he'll be meeting with Habib this evening.

"So we can talk about the issue that he is raising, and we agree with wholeheartedly. We are having discussions with some student leaders; we have some positions, which they have agreed to now, that we will put to management."

LISTEN: Habib: We cannot deliver free education

Meanwhile, acting Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane is due to hold a briefing this evening on the latest developments, around the fees must fall protests.



Phahlane is expected to hold a meeting at the provincial headquarters in Parktown, following a day of running battles at Wits University.

The students have now gathered outside the Great Hall and are singing struggle songs.

Police officers are stationed near the protesting students.

It's being reported that Wits will reopen tomorrow.

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