JOHANNESBURG, October 20, 2015 -The University of the Witwatersrand has suspended all academic activities until next week Monday, following the on-going student protests against fee increases, the institution said on Tuesday.
“In order to ensure the safety and security of our staff and students, the executive management has decided to suspend all university activities for the remainder of this week. This applies to all staff (academic, professional, support and administrative) and students,” it said in a statement.
“The university encourages students to use this time productively to prepare for their examinations.
“Students are also reminded that any protests that take place off campus are out of Wits University’s control and that the university has no influence over how the South African Police Service may deal with situations that occur in public areas.”
The nationwide action started with Wits students protesting on Wednesday last week against fees that would be increased by 10.5% to account for rising costs and inflation. Academic activities were brought to a standstill, and classes were still suspended on Tuesday.
This week, students at Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town (UCT) also began protesting, with students at the University of Fort Hare also joining in.
Protests were also seen at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Cape Town campus.
The University of Pretoria said it had suspended all academic activities for Wednesday “to allow for peaceful engagement on key issues affecting the institution.”
On Tuesday, Higher Education Blade Nzimande announced a proposed 6% cap on fee increases, following a meeting with vice-chancellors.
This move was rejected by students at the protesting universities.
Sthembiso Ndlovu, the deputy chair of the SA Students Congress in Gauteng, vowed earlier that all institutions of higher learning in the country would be shut down on Wednesday.
Wits said it acknowledged that there was a call for a “national day of solidarity” on Wednesday.
“Wits also recognises the need to allow time for the necessary negotiations to take place to resolve the current situation.”
Protesting University of Cape Town (UCT) students are now making their way to various residences around campus to force outsourced workers to leave their jobs. The workers include security guards and cleaners.
Students want the university to stop private companies from rendering services on campus. Classes were again suspended on Tuesday as the no-free increase campaign gained momentum. The University has obtained an interdict preventing students from disrupting normal operations on campus.
Speaking in an interview on SAFM Midday Live, Prof Francis Peterson explained the current situation at the University of Cape Town.