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Protesting Wits students want private security to leave campus

The group of students have staged a small demonstration at the institution’s Solomon Mahlangu House.

Private security guards at the University of Witwatersrand on 5 February 2019. Picture: Thando Kubheka/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Students who’ve gone on a hunger strike at Wits University are demanding that private security leave the premises.

The group of students have staged a small demonstration at the institution’s Solomon Mahlangu House.

They’re demanding accommodation and registration for students with historical debt.

Earlier on Tuesday, a student was injured during a scuffle with private security guards.

Private security officers surrounded the Great Hall at Wits University where some students were sleeping on the floor.

SRC representative Solomzi Moleketi says they were told by government that education is free but many students are still denied admission.

“We are incurring debt on something that’s supposed to be free.”

Moleketi says they also feel threatened by the presence of private security on campus.

“We would like all this additional security to leave, we do not feel safe. They are supposed to make us feel safe, we feel less safe [and] threatened.”

Student leaders have vowed to mobilise more support if their demands are not met.

#WitsHungerStrike: Students embark on a hunger strike

PRIVATE SECURITY TO REMAIN IN PLACE

Meanwhile, Wits University says private security will remain at the institution until the safety and security of its students is guaranteed.

Wits deputy Vice-Chancellor Andrew Crouch says the university was forced to bring in private security guards because students disrupted operations at the fees office and some classes.

“And in the context of that, we have a responsibility to those students who are sitting in class, fee-paying parents and funders who are funding those students who are coming here to study.”

Crouch has appealed to students to report allegations of any form of violence against them.

“People who were involved in those altercations involving these incidents will be held to account.”

The university has appealed for patience while it urgently addresses issues of accommodation and student debt.

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