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Wits students vow to close university after snub

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Protesting Witwatersrand University students on Monday vowed to shut down the institution until their grievances were heard.

This follows the university council refusing to address the thousands of students gathered at Senate House on Monday following an agreement on Saturday.

Council said students had gone against the “spirit” of the agreement by violently entering the building.

Instead, council posted its response on the university’s website.

Former SRC president Mcebo Dlamini, stripped of his position earlier this year by vice chancellor Adam Habib for comparing all white people to former Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, spoke to the students and made it clear the university had more to lose than they did.

“It is clear the university doesn’t take us seriously… Today they [are] proving exactly who they are. We said to Adam Habib we are failing to talk to you. We now ask to speak to your handlers,” he said to the assembled crowd.

“I know some of you might be dejected, you might be losing hope. Victory is certain. Wits University will remain closed up until our grievances are heard.”

He called the university’s council intellectual thugs, as they had been “very strategic” when announcing the proposed fee increases for next year.

“They increase fees during exam time. They are very strategic,” he said to cheers.

“They have to finish the syllabus which they haven’t finished. They can’t afford to close… With these words I’m saying to you, we will write exams in this university with no fee increment… All we want is fees not to increase.”

He said the question of university fees was now a national crisis, with classes called off at both the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University in Grahamstown on Monday.

“It’s not only about Wits anymore. Government will have to intervene. Stakeholders will have to intervene,” Dlamini said.

“If we need [to], we are going to shut the gate.”

Students later dispersed from Senate House and left campus, taking their protest to the streets. News24

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