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Wits brings in additional security, obtains court order

- Wits University

Senior Executive Team statement at 16:00:

Wits University has deployed additional security and obtained an interim court order to ensure the safety and security of its staff, students and visitors, and the protection of its property.

The interim court order was granted in the South Gauteng High Court on Friday, 15 January 2016. 

In summary, the court order prevents anyone from:

  1. unlawfully occupying Senate House or any other offices, buildings, facilities or lecture halls;
  2. disrupting the normal activities of the University including registration, classes, lectures, tutorials;
  3. obstructing or preventing any person from entering or leaving the University or any of our buildings and facilities;
  4. causing damage to property;
  5. participating in, calling for, inciting or encouraging unlawful behaviour;
  6. harassing, intimidating, threatening or assaulting any person on campus; and
  7. being in possession of any dangerous weapons including knives, sticks or the like.

The order also empowers the University to bring the police onto campus if required.

Right to peaceful protest

The University respects the rights of students to lawful protest and the rights of those who wish to learn and work. This interim interdict does not stop legitimate protest.

Resurgence of student protests

The University recognises and supports the call for access to affordable, quality higher education and welcomes the ministerial commission that has been established to further explore this proposal.

Concessions

Government has made many concessions in recent months, including committing to cover the majority of costs related to the no-fee increase for 2016 and to clear the historical debt of qualifying students who received NSFAS in 2015.

Wits has also made significant compromises including delaying the first payment for those who cannot afford it, thereby removing a major financial barrier to registration. 

Disruptions and Security

Despite these concessions, the registration process was still obstructed on Monday by some students. There have also been serious threats made to the University and some staff. The University has thus brought additional security onto campus to ensure the safety and security of staff, students, visitors and others.

Wits remains open and willing to engage with students, staff, parents, alumni and anyone who has any issues of concern.

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