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Wits denies allegations that students were assaulted

- Wits University

Senior Executive Team statement:

The University has been made aware that some of the students who were evicted from the Ground Floor of Senate House this morning (Tuesday, 12 January 2015) are claiming that they were manhandled, assaulted and sexually harassed by security. 

The University vehemently denies these claims. As might be expected, during the eviction there were some scuffles. The eviction was captured on closed circuit television cameras and observed by managers. The University can make this footage available. A review of the footage will show that there is nothing there to support these claims. In fact the footage shows some protesters threatening others. Four security personnel were injured during the scuffles. 

The students were asked to vacate the Ground Floor of Senate House and were served with written notices to do so. They were given time to leave but refused to do so and were evicted this morning. 

These students were responsible for disrupting the registration process in Senate House yesterday. The occupation is unacceptable as it infringes on the rights of students who want to register, many of whom are the poorest of the poor that require assistance from the University. Many had travelled long distances from rural communities to register and were prevented from doing so. 

The disruption halted face to face registrations at Wits for two days. Many students have registered online and telephonically, and continue to do so. 

The University cannot allow a small group of students to stop the University’s registration processes and other activities. If we do so, we jeopardise the academic year and the futures of many young students who want to learn and prosper. 

It is important to realise that we cannot destroy the University and make it unsustainable. This will impact more on the poor rather than rich and will reinforce the very inequalities that we are trying to address. 

We respect the rights of those who wish to protest lawfully and peacefully without infringing on the rights of those who want to work and learn.

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