October 28, 2015

#WitsOnFire: Four fires, vandalism reported at Wits

Four fires were reported across the main campus at Wits, Wits communications manager Shirona Patel confirmed on Wednesday morning.

Patel said four incidents happened early on Wednesday as the institution prepared to resume lectures.

“Two vehicles belonging to our contractors were set alight, security personnel managed to contain the fire. A tyre was also set alight outside the Student Centre, the glass at the bookshop within the Student Centre was shattered and books set alight,” said Patel.

Another tyre was set on fire near the library. She said the fires were all extinguished before they could cause more damage.

In a statement, Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib denounced them as “acts of violence”.

“We strongly condemn these cowardly acts of violence and vandalism. Any perpetrator caught undertaking these acts will be arrested and charged,” he warned.

The fires, which are believed to have been ignited in the early hours of Wednesday morning, were extinguished and campus security has been ramped up.

“Campus Control was on hand to extinguish the fires with the assistance of others and no one was injured,” read the statement.

The incident comes a week after students shut campuses across the country demanding a no-fee increase for next year.

The academic programme is set to resume on Wednesday after an agreement was reached between management and the SRC. http://praag.org/?p=20667

Meanwhile, there are reports that some student leaders at Wits were allegedly bribed by the African National Congress to end the protest, they have however been unavailable for comment.
WATCH: The day fees 'fell'

'The days of white-dominated business are coming to an end'

SANDTON - The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) left Sandton's CBD after handing over a memorandum to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) with party leader Julius Malema stating that "the days of white-dominated business are coming to an end".  
Thousands of supporters gathered in front of the JSE after beginning the march in Newtown earlier today.

Malema has given the JSE 30 days to respond to its demands.
The marchers also protested at the Reserve Bank and Chamber of Mines.

After a day of singing and chanting, marchers sajd they knew their 19 kilometre walk from the Johannesburg CBD to Sandton was worth their time.
“I was feeling good to here in Johannesburg, I’m from Tembisa… Today I’m good, no reason and no bad thing, I’m just feeling good… I’m very grateful because I’m here to support those who are fighting for free education.”
It was a sea of red as at least 50,000 supporters brought traffic to a standstill and at one point sat on the ground next to the American Embassy on Rivonia Road.
Thousands of EFF supporters are embarking on buses.

Malema says black South Africans are fed up with the economy being driven by white foreigners. 

He says black people in South Africa are still living in poverty and despair while white capital monopoly thrives. 

Spokesperson Mbyuseni Ndlozi says the ball is now with the JSE and this march was a wake-up call.
“They must respond and invite us for a conversation.”
Meanwhile, the CEO of the JSE says EFF protesters have raised some valid points.
Nicky Newton-King received that memorandum and says many protesters have never been to the JSE before.
“Firstly, we want to salute them for taking the trouble to come to Sandton. I welcomed them to the JSE and I made a point that they raise very substantial issues and that their voices are heard. That is something that it’s important that corporate South Africa and other leaders lean to. We are certainly going to be doing that with the EFF leadership in the next couple of weeks.”
leadership in the next couple of weeks

He says the 'Fees Must Fall' campaign has made its way to the steps of the JSE with the EFF calling on the companies listed on the JSE to adopt 100 students and assist with their higher education. 

The EFF says the JSE must play an urgent role in the transformation of South Africa’s wealth. 

PICS: Chaos erupts at Wits

October 28, 2015 at 11:13am
Johannesburg - Chaos erupted at Wits on Wednesday morning with students and security guards pelting each other with stones and the burly men in black suits throttling and wrestling students to stop them from disrupting classes.
A bookshop and two vehicles were also set on fire in the early hours and access control mechanisms on turnstiles ripped off.
So incensed were the protesting students that they turned against everyone trying to enter the university, even assaulting a Star photographer.
They are against the university’s decision to resume classes on Wednesday despite issues that, they say, still need attention.
They blocked cars from driving into the university through the Yale Road gate, with some students jumping in front of a grey Kia and someone punching its hood.
When about 20 private security guards arrived shortly before 8am to try to clear the gates, attempts to try clear students from the Kia’s path turned ugly, with security guards throttling and wrestling one of the students to the ground.
But the Kia still could not enter and security asked it to turn around.
Students then backed up inside the gate, and when security advanced, they began throwing rocks. The guards retaliated by throwing them back.
Students moved to higher ground next to the gate to gain advantage and the guards retreated.
By the time the skirmish was over, one security guard had lost his jacket, and his white shirt was spattered with blood.
The gates were still blocked by students, who placed cinder blocks in the middle of the road.
Another 40 protesters marched up to the gate from the middle of the camp to clap and sing struggle songs with their comrades.
“This is out of control now,” said a second-year nuclear energy student in frustration.
“The protests are divided. There are the ones that see the bigger picture and the ones that don’t.”
Protesting students declined to comment on the motivation behind the blockade, but from the past two days, it has become apparent that some feel the protest should continue.
Police presence grew at the bottom of the hill on Enoch Sontonga Avenue as the morning progressed.
Spokeswoman for the university, Shirona Patel, said attempts were made “to burn two cars belonging to contractors, books in a bookshop in our student centre and start a fire outside the law library”, but the fires were extinguished by Campus Control.
“We are looking at CCTV as we speak, talking to students on the ground and we are also appealing to anyone with information about last (Wednesday) night,” Patel said.
She confirmed there were no injuries, but the university could not confirm the cost of the damage.
She had a stern warning for those involved in Tuesday night’s fires, saying once those responsible were found, they would be arrested.
Patel said a small group of protesters including outsourced workers and a group of students were still marching up and down campus on Wednesday morning but that the situation was under control.
“There is security presence on the campus marching with them and the police are on standby.”
Patel said the university was disappointed by the situation as the majority of students wanted to come back today (on Wednesday) after two weeks of protesting. “There is a handful of students trying to disrupt classes and academic activities,” she said.
Outgoing Student Representative Council (SRC) president Shaeera Kalla tweeted in response to Tuesday night’s vandalism saying: “Whatever your views around protest and violence are; at Wits, you will not win anything by being violent.”
In a joint statement with incoming SRC President Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, she said: “We note the university released a statement saying a resolution was reached with the SRC. This is false. We must clarify that there have been no meetings or negotiations between management and the SRC at any point.
“That being said, the only firm decision-making platforms for the #FeesMustFall movement have been mass student meetings called by the SRC.”
The pair could not be reached for comment on Wednesday morning’s protest

Several fires started “deliberately and simultaneously” on the University of the Witwatersrand’s Braamfontein campus were extinguished early on Wednesday morning, Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib said.
Campus control managed to extinguish the fires with the help of others, with no one injured, Habib said in a statement.
“We strongly condemn these cowardly acts of violence and vandalism. Any perpetrator caught undertaking these acts will be arrested and charged.”

He said the safety and security of the university’s staff and students continued to be of the utmost importance.
Campus reopening
The university was boosting security on campus to ensure there would be no further incidents of violence when it reopened on Wednesday morning.
Police would also be on standby.
Habib called on anyone with information on the fires to contact campus control. Suspicious behaviour should also be reported.
“The University will open today, Wednesday, 28 October 2015, a call also supported by the Wits SRC,” Habib said.
“We will keep you updated throughout the day.”
The university was reopening after being closed since last week Monday following student protests against a proposed 10.5% fee increase for 2016, which began the week before.
The protests at Wits spread to campuses across South Africa, as students protested about rising fees at their various institutions.
Their protests culminated in President Jacob Zuma announcing on Friday that university fee increases would be frozen for 2016. The major question since Zuma’s announcement was how government intended on paying for the projected R2.6 billion rand shortfall due to fees being frozen.
Agreement with SRC
Wits was able to open on Wednesday following an agreement between management and the student representative council, which has been leading the protests, on Monday.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the university said they expected all members of the university community to respect the institution and to act within its rules.
“The past few days have been trying for all, and we appreciate your assistance in reaching this point of reopening,” Wits said.
“We look forward to your continued support in getting the academic programme back on track and enabling our students to write their examinations.”