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Habib to address protesting students

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Wits University Vice Chancellor Adam Habib is expected to meet with student representatives on Friday following two days of protests at the institution.

This as Wits said in a statement earlier that it would “postpone” all activities at all of their campuses on Friday – barring the Medical School campus. The protests are over fee increases at the institution.

“Wits University is doing all it can to diffuse the current situation on campus and are making another attempt to engage with the students at the main gates on the Braamfontein campuses now. We are confident that the students will stand down from the main gates shortly.”

But SRC president Shaeera Kalla said they were not aware of any meeting.

“We have not received any communication about a meeting. We have made it clear that we will boycott any meeting because this is no longer an SRC matter. They need to address the students. They have failed to negotiate on our terms, and we have no interest in going to any negotiation with a body that has no interest in our interests,” said Kalla.

Wits University spokesperson Shirona Patel, however, told News24 that Habib would be flying from Durban to discuss the issues with students from 09:00 until noon on Friday.

Patel said in terms of the suspension of classes, their main reason for doing so was for the safety and security of both students and staff.

She said they were having difficulty negotiating with the students as they were seemingly represented by different groups.

“While we remain confident that we will come out with an amicable solution to the problem, we have a problem because we have leaders from four different groups representing the students. As soon as we speak to the SRC, some students tell us that they are not being represented by the SRC,” Patel said.

According to Patel the different groups included the EFF Wits student council, The Progressive Youth Alliance, The All Residence Council and the Outsource Workers.

Kalla, however, denied this saying that while they had various organisational leaders, they all had a common goal.

“We are all united in principal. It started off as a SRC issue. We have a common purpose, but we have different ways of meeting that agenda,” said Kalla.

Kalla went on to say that they had been overwhelmed by the support they had gained from the media and the public.

“This is a national issue and we will continue … to fight for student rights.” News24

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