Wits to open doors for learning, to engage protesting students

Spokesperson Shirona Patel says the institution is still open to talks with protesting students.

FILE: #FeesMustFall supporters hurl rocks at campus security standing at the Great Hall on Wits University's main campus on 11 October 2016. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Wits University says it will open its doors for learning this morning, saying the academic program yesterday went smoothly without disruptions from protesting students.

The institution resumed academic activity this past Monday following weeks of #FeesMustFall protests.

On Monday, protesting students disrupted classes leading to arrests and later running battles ensued with police firing stun grenades and rubber bullets at protesters to disperse them.

Yesterday, eight arrested students were released on a warning and will be appearing again in court next month.

The university says the majority of classes continued yesterday across all campuses without disruption and with better attendance than on Tuesday.

The university announced it's extended the academic calendar by two weeks and says the examination timetable revised and graduations for this year rescheduled.

Spokesperson Shirona Patel says the institution is still open for talks with protesting students.

"We're opening to engage with students from all societies and mediators to try and find a negotiated settlement. We're open to an imbizo."

She says the institution has pledged to support students in their quest for free, quality higher education.

WATCH: Classes & clashes continue at Wits

CALLS FOR ROBUST DEBATE

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) and an independent organisation comprising concerned parents are calling on government to show a sense of urgency when dealing with crises at universities.

The SACC and the Higher Education Parents Dialogue made presentations to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande yesterday.

They appeared before a Parliamentary portfolio committee

The Higher Education Parents Dialogue has warned Parliament that unless the state takes clear action with regards to protests and delays on campuses, various spheres of government will be undermined.

"The view in some circles, we were told straight to our faces, that you are busy protesting these colonialist institutions. Our view is to let this whole thing collapse."

Representatives of the organisation and clerics were among the stakeholders who appeared before the portfolio committee.

The group has been working with vice-chancellors, students and government in an attempt to facilitate a peaceful resolution.

It is calling for the support of the private sector as well as effective political leadership.