Wits accuses protesting students of 'advancing own political agendas'

Wits accuses protesting students of 'advancing own political agendas'

A hunger strike by Wits students turned into a violent protest on Thursday.

By Neo Motlaung

The University of Witwatersrand (Wits) has accused students who embarked on a hunger strike this week of using the protest for politics.

A small group of students started a peaceful protest on Monday by sitting in the middle of the administration area of Solomon Mahlangu House.

The university's Student Representative Council (SRC) then called on students to go on a hunger strike from Tuesday morning.

The students are demanding that all those with historic debt be registered and that students be given accommodation.

However, Wits management says it cannot meet the demands due to financial constraints.

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The university says it believes these individuals do not have the interest of students at heart.

"Their aim is to disrupt learning and to hold higher education institutions to ransom in order to advance their own political agenda. Their agenda has nothing to do with free education but is rather a deliberate attempt to destabilise our University," it said in a statement read.

Officials say action will be taken should these protestors be exposed.

"We need to expose these persons who are today on our campus trying to disrupt our lectures and to shut down our campuses. We need to expose them, suspend them if they are students and have them arrested if they are threatening people, infringing on the rights of others to learn and work and damaging property." 

The statement adds that the future of students cannot be held to ransom.

'We will thus go ahead with all University activities in the interests of the majority of students and in order to produce the high-level skills needed to move our country forward."

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