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One person shot dead following Wits protest

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One person has died after police fired rubber bullets at Wits University’s protesting students at the Braamfontein campus.

Students have threatened to continue their protest on Wednesday over the financial exclusion of students.

On Tuesday, traffic was badly affected on Empire Road in Johannesburg due to a protest by students.

Wits University says that if it continues to accept students who have historical debt, the institution will become financially unsustainable.

The university says it is owed R1 billion in outstanding fees accumulated over the past seven years.

Wits University says it has made available R20 million for students who are facing financial hardship and R100 million has been allocated to financial aid through bursaries and scholarships.

Wits University spokesperson, Shirona Patel, says the so-called missing middle remains a challenge.

“These are students who have accumulated debt because they cannot pay and they do not quality for NSFAS. That accumulated debt over the years. If we continue to accept students with this historical debt it means that the university will become financially unsustainable.”

“We do not want to be bailed out by government. We want to be a financially sustainable organisation. Yes, we want to keep the doors open for as many people as possible but we do have limited resources. What this means is call on the private sector and public sector to support those students in the missing middle,” explains Patel.

Meanwhile, students want those who owe the university R150 000 in historical debt to be allowed to register.

Wits SRC president Mpendulo Mfeka says they will shut down Wits from 7am.

Mfeka adds that the university must not operate until they get what they want.

SRC’s Kamohelo Chauke says, “About 80 000 students are still not registered because of that financial exclusion problem. So that’s the reason the SRC has decided to find another way of trying to communicate with the university.”

Source: SABC News

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