Security has been tightened at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) even though the newly elected Students Representative Council (SRC) cancelled their planned “campus shutdown” to allow exams to go ahead uninterrupted .
Wits spokeswoman Shirona Patel on Friday admitted the university management was aware that a planned “#FeesMustFall” protest was called off late on Thursday night. She said extra security measures were nevertheless implemented with police on standby to assist campus security personnel if the need arose.
At other state institutions of higher learning including the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of the Free State (UFS) students are engaging in protest action. They are against any fee increases and are demanding free higher education as well as the removal of police details from campuses,
Students are also want President Jacob Zuma to release the Heher Commission report on the feasibility of free education.
On Thursday the Economic Freedom Fighters-led SRC at Wits held a mass meeting outside the Great Hall, where it was agreed that a shutdown of academic activities should begin on Friday.
University management then informed students and staff that despite the protest, all academic activities and examinations would continue as per the examination timetable.
However, the SRC backtracked a couple of hours later and cancelled the shutdown citing ”a plethora of complaints” from students concerned about the possible impact on ongoing final examinations.
Led by its president Orediretse Masebe, the Wits SRC said the fight for free higher education would continue.
”The SRC is aware of of certain individuals in and outside the university that have been encouraging a shutdown for their own interests,” the SRC said in a statement.
“We will always be clear on our stance that we want free decolonised, quality education … but if we shut down campus with examinations commencing, then we would not be looking out for one another.”
The Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) won the Wits SRC elections last month, taking over from the Progressive Youth Alliance , which is made up of the South African Students Congress, African National Congress Youth League and the Young Communist League of SA.
The EFFSC won 12 of the 15 SRC seats available.
– African News Agency (ANA)