Wits to bolster security as classes expected to resume

The university says extra security will be deployed to all buildings to ensure the safety of students.

FILE: Student leaders try to stop violent clashes between students and private security at Senate House, Wits University. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Wits University says security will be beefed up at all its campuses as the institution prepares to resume academic activities this morning.

Yesterday, protesting students disrupted operations on campus and intimidated staff who eventually left their offices.

The university's management says it's decided to continue with classes because it believes the majority of students want to return to lectures.

Wits University's Shirona Patel says extra security and police will be deployed to all buildings to ensure the safety of students and staff.

"Following the harassment of some staff, the university has left with no choice but to open with a full security contingent throughout our campuses."

Patel says students found to be breaking the law will be held responsible.

"Anyone caught contravening any university rule or court interdict or infringing on the rights of others will immediately be held accountable for their actions and may face criminal charges."

At the same time, it's quiet at the university, with some students seen going to libraries and classes, and some university staff members can also be seen on campus.

But there is also strong police presence, as was expected

Vice Chancellor Adam Habib says because of this, the University was left with no choice but to resume academic programmes, with a full security contingent on all campuses and buildings.

He has warned anyone who infringes on the rights of others, will immediately be held accountable for their actions, and may face criminal charges.

FREE EDUCATION NEEDS TO BE INCLUSIVE

Former president Thabo Mbeki says there should be inclusion of access to education as a whole, not just in higher education.

Mbeki was speaking yesterday at a dialogue at the University of South Africa for African Studies students where he was asked about his views on the fees must fall movement.

According to the Pretoria News, Mbeki told guests that the country needs an educated population and there's a demand for everyone to access education.

He says South Africa's budget has to be allocated to address various needs including public healthcare.

Meanwhile, protesting Wits students have made it clear that they will continue with the #FeesMustFall protest until their demands are met.

VISA F OR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

International students at Wits University are concerned about the ongoing protests at the institution, saying if the academic program does not resume, they will not be able to meet their visa renewal deadlines.

As a result, international students will not be able to come back to South Africa on time to continue their studies next year.

Wits international students say if they do not write their exams and receive their results before the end of this year, it will have a big impact on their studies.

One student said: "If I don't renew my visa in time, I might not be able to continue with my education."

"I might have to come back next year again and apply for permits," another student added.

The university said its international office is working on a way to ensure that these students are not affected, however, it is not going to be an easy process.

Patel said: "We currently have about 3,000 international students on the Wits campus and we are working with them to see how we can assist them in this regard."

Students are supposed to resume with lectures tomorrow but there is still uncertainty as to whether this will happen.