Demonstrating Wits Students Threaten To Beat Up Journalists

JOHANNESBURG,October 20, 2015 – Students from the University of the Witwatersrand protesting against fee increases threatened to beat up journalists on Tuesday.

A News24 journalist and other media observing the students at the gates of the Wits Medical School, where students were reportedly writing exams, were told they would be assaulted if they did not leave.

“We don’t want the media. You guys are painting us bad in front of our parents so we don’t want you here,” one student told News24.

Photographers were also pushed by students. The protesting students numbered a few dozen at the gates of the campus, with no security or police in sight.

The protesting students then went inside the campus, where it was believed they intended to disrupt exams.

The protests flared up last week following the university’s announcement that fees would be increased by 10.5%, to account for rising costs and inflation.

‘Make Joburg ungovernable’

On Monday, Wits EFF student chair Vuyani Phambo told students they planned to push their protest further, taking power away from Wits Vice Chancellor Adam Habib.

The students said they wanted to make Johannesburg ungovernable by “frustrating white monopoly capital”.

This comes after negotiations reached a deadlock when the Wits council refused to meet with the students as planned on Monday, after they allegedly broke into a locked Senate House concourse during the morning.

Later on Monday, students marched to Empire Road where reports emerged that students had overturned a van and thrown stones at cars.

SRC sitting president at Wits, Shaeera Kalla, said they will demand that the university extend the exam timetable for a week, as well as assignments and tests.

Blade Nzimande visit?

While gathered at the Senate House, students demanded that Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande come and address them, saying they felt insulted by him.

The minister was scheduled to meet with various vice chancellors on Tuesday after protests at Rhodes University, the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Stellenbosch University, all against fee hikes. 

Classes were suspended at Wits, Rhodes and UCT on Monday, and again on Tuesday.

At Stellenbosch, students were occupying the Admin B building, while at the University of Pretoria, SRC president Mosibudi Rasethaba rejected an earlier statement from the university that an agreement had been reached.