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Lectures suspended

- By Wits University

Message from the Vice-Chancellor's Office.

Dear Students and Colleagues,

Groups of students gathered at the entrances of the University this morning protesting against the fee increases for 2016. The students prevented access and egress to the University earlier in the day. In some cases, they have also disrupted teaching and other academic activities from occurring. This is an unofficial protest that follows one at the Wits Business School last night in which lectures were again disrupted and had to be cancelled. Overnight some lecture theatres were also vandalised.

Although events have now stabilised with students agreeing to allow traffic to flow through our entrances, there has been an overall disruption to the academic programme of the University. After consultation between Professor Andrew Crouch and the Deans, we are cancelling all lectures and other academic activities for the day. We think that this is the most prudent route to manage the situation and to ensure the safety and security of all staff and students.

The protest violates the protest policy of the University and our student rules. It is an orchestrated attempt to prevent the University from functioning, and it contravenes our agreements with student leaders and other stakeholders over the years. It is also a clear violation of South Africa’s Constitution and Bill of Rights. We recognise that students have a right to protest, but this cannot happen at the expense of the rights of students and staff members to learn and work in a safe environment.

The majority of our 32 500 students and 5 000 staff want to continue teaching, learning and preparing for the upcoming examinations. It is unacceptable for the majority of our staff and students to be held ransom by a minority. We will take the necessary action in line with our policies and procedures to create an environment that allows teaching and learning to continue.

I trust that we have your support and that you will work with us to create a free and safe environment in which we can continue our academic programme. We will continue to keep you updated during the course of the day.

Executive Management

Wits University