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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Lectures Resume at Wits University After Violent Protests Over Student Accommodation

Nyakallo Tefu 

Academic activities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg resumed on Thursday after a violent protest march on Wednesday.

Wits’ Student Representative Council embarked on a protest to demand student accommodation for over 200 students, accusing the university management of leaving desperate students to sort out this issue themselves. 

In a statement on Wits’ Twitter page, management said it was disappointed that the agreement between the university and students signed on February 10 was broken by the Wits SRC.

It further added that the university released R17 million to the Wits Hardship Fund (a fund created for students who are in urgent need of assistance), to help those in need of accommodation. 

Wits SRC President Thuto Gabaphethe said students have been sleeping at libraries because they have no accommodation.

Eastern Cape student, Nomonde Foli, shared her story at the march, saying she had been sleeping at the university’s 24-hour library since the beginning of the year. 

Foli said she had a historical debt of R89,000, which she owed to the institution and has had to make a commitment with the finance office to make a payment of R500 a month, in order to be allowed to register for the 2020 academic year. 

“The number of black students sleeping in laboratories is disgusting and our moral conscious does not allow us to turn a blind eye”, said Gabaphete.

Wits management said despite an agreement between the two parties being broken, the Dean of students, Jerome Seppie, is still willing to engage with leaders of student councils to find a resolution to the issue. 

However, Ander Crouch, management and vice principal at Wits addressed students, saying that the university is not in a position to assist every student registered with a bed.

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