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COVID-19: Some Wits students disappointed over closure of accommodation

Students could be seen wheeling their suitcases out of wits university’s main campus. They were instructed to vacate their rooms by Thursday night.

FILE: The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

Editor's note: A previous version of this story did not contain a comment from Wits University. This article has been updated to show that students still staying at the residences are not in Wits-approved residences.

JOHANNESBURG - University students have been instructed to go home from private residences in line with the nationwide lockdown, which starts at midnight on Thursday.

However, Wits University students were fighting the directive and Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib, saying it’s unfair.

Students could be seen wheeling their suitcases out of Acorn residence, privately owned housing for students. They were instructed by the residence management, which is independent by Wits to vacate their rooms by Thursday night.

Wits University's Shirona Patel clarified on Thursday these students were not in Wits-managed residences.

"Wits University would like to clarify that all students were requested to leave residences last week already. And the majority of them had left by last week Thursday and Friday. The last student left last Sunday. So the university is currently shut down. The university is like to open again on 20 April."

This was done ahead of Ramaphosa's lockdown decision on Monday.

So where will they go?

“I am disappointed at the vice-chancellor and the entire executive management of the university,” said one student.

Another said: “It’s painful to be told to leave the university’s student residences.”

But Patel said only essential personnel were working at the university.

"The university understands some students were upset last week about having to move out of residence. But it would be irresponsible to allow 6,600 students to stay at the residences," she added.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Wednesday advised residents not to travel out of the province ahead of the lockdown period to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

WATCH: SA on lockdown: Here’s what you need to know

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.