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Safety and Security at Wits

- Wits University

The University will take action against anyone involved in acts of violence on our campuses, in line with our rules, policies and procedures.

The University continues with its academic programme this week as planned.

Please note that we have instructed security officers to check the access cards of individuals entering our campuses and using our infrastructure. This follows recent unlawful activities, including attempted arson, malicious damage to property, the burning of a bus, the setting alight of a mattress at the back of a library and the vandalisation of University property, that took place last week. Seven students have since been barred and/or suspended or partially suspended from our campuses.

These incidents have created a need for heightened security on our campuses, in order to protect the safety and security of our staff, students and visitors. We request you to please cooperate with the security officers and to exercise patience in this regard.

Protests at the University of Pretoria and University of the Free State

Many staff and students would have seen shocking images relating to the physical altercations that took place at the University of Pretoria yesterday following disagreement on the University’s language policy. Similarly, violence erupted at the University of the Free State last night when some individuals tried to disrupt a Varsity Cup match that was underway.

We condemn all forms of violence in the strongest possible terms and reiterate that we will not tolerate violence on our campuses. The University will take action against anyone involved in acts of violence on our campuses, in line with our rules, policies and procedures.

Condoning violence as a form of protest

It is also deeply concerning that a number of movements, including the #RhodesMustFall and the #WitsFeesMustFall groups, yesterday openly condoned violence and destruction as a form of protest. This view has also been supported in other settings by some academics and political activists. Read more.

This flirtation with violence and its romanticisation is absurd and should be denounced by all societal role-players with urgency. Given our context and the challenges that we face, the violence and racism that are encapsulated in these incidents cannot be addressed through security measures only. It is incumbent on everyone at Wits – staff, students and other stakeholders, and indeed all societal actors, to isolate those who continue to deliberately perpetrate this cowardly behaviour.   

Let us be clear – this does not mean that you should take the law into your own hands. If you do feel threatened or unsafe, or if you have witnessed an incident, report it to Campus Control immediately. Campus Control is responsible in the first instance for securing our campuses and for protecting those who learn, work or visit the University. If an incident occurs, Campus Control will liaise with security, the police and/or emergency services as required.

Conclusion

We thank you, our staff and students, for your patience during this trying time.

SENIOR EXECUTIVE TEAM

23 FEBRUARY 2016

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