Chairperson of the Wits University Executive council, Dr Randall Carolissen, says they are taking the demands of protesting students seriously.
However Carolissen emphasized to the students gathered at the University’s Senate House that he didn’t have the power to make a decision on their demands that management reverse the proposed 10.5% tuition fee increase for 2016.
Addressing the students Carolissen said, “The management don’t need protection. I don’t want them around. I want to have a discussion with the SRC and the students in an atmosphere that’s conducive to rational talk. I don’t want security, I don’t want fighting. I don’t want disrespectful behaviour.”
The students have vowed to keep the leadership at the university, until they accede to their demands. A proposal by Carolissen that students’ demands for no fee increase be discussed on Saturday was met with shouts of disapproval. “I will commit to you that we are going to have a council meeting first thing tomorrow morning,” he said, to shouts of condemnation.
Earlier on Friday, one student was injured after chaos erupted when security guards reportedly used pepper spray to disperse the angry students.
They have been protesting against the increase since Wednesday, and blocked exits, prevented people from entering and leaving the university, and caused lectures to be suspended.
“We are not asking for much,” former SRC president Mcebo Dlamini told students.
Carolissen objected to the way the protesters had been holding members of staff on campus against their will. “Wits students have a right to protest. But if we have a situation where we have people trapped on campus and their kids are alone at home, we cannot have that.”