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14 arrested for violating Wits interdict

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Fourteen people have been arrested for violating a court interdict that the University of Witwatersrand obtained earlier this year, the institution said on Friday.

Some of the individuals were not students, spokesperson Shirona Patel said.

They were currently being held at the Hillbrow Police Station.

“The safety and security of our staff, students and visitors to the campus is paramount and the university was left with no choice but to have these individuals arrested as they posed a threat to the 33 000 students and 5 000 staff on our campuses,” she said.

The group was allegedly involved in criminal activities on campuses, including the occupation of the university’s administration building Senate House, attempted arson, malicious damage to property, the alleged burning of a bus, the setting alight of a mattress at the back of a library and the vandalisation of Wits property, Patel said.

Some members of the group could face suspension or be barred from all Wits campuses, she added. This was in line with the university’s rules, policies and procedures.

Patel downplayed claims that the university was “criminalising” its protests.

She said the activities that had taken place on campus were criminal, and that Wits had to respond accordingly by increasing the presence of security on campus.

“As a university we cannot tolerate criminal acts on our campuses.”

The university had deployed “a strong security contingent” on all campuses and bus routes.

She said this decision had caused the institution to redirect resources away from where they were needed most – in accommodation, food and support for needy students.

A bus was set alight outside the Knockando Halls of Residence in Rockridge Road, Parktown, around 23:00 on Tuesday.

The decision to beef up security was to ensure the safety of staff, students, and property, Patel said.

The bus burning followed a spate of violence at the University of Cape Town and Walter Sisulu University campuses this week, which led to a number of students being arrested for public violence and malicious damage to property.

[Source: News24]
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