10 October 2016 - A bus is set alight in Braamfontein near the Wits campus during the Fees Must Fall protest on Monday, after violent clashes broke out between students and police outside the Great Hall on campus.
JOHANNESBURG - Wits University reopened on Monday morning, but by lunchtime it was chaos on campus.
PICTURED: Classes were disrupted on Monday as students moved around campus mobilising support. CREDIT: eNCA / Bafana Nzimande
Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has said he was disturbed by the violent clashes between students and police, which later spilled over onto the streets of the Johannesburg CBD.
In a statement, Nzimande accused students of being disrespectful, irresponsible, and holding at ransom Wits’ attempts to continue with its academic programme.
“This is a critical time for the academic programme with examinations fast approaching, therefore it is of paramount importance for classes and lectures to resume without delay,” said Nzimande.
PICTURED: Protesters hurl stones at police and private security on the steps of the Great Hall on campus at Wits University. CREDIT: eNCA / Bafana Nzimande
“We strongly condemn the actions of a few striking students who clearly don’t want to see the completion of the 2016 academic programme. They continue to disrupt and intimidate students who want to continue with their studies.”
PICTURED: Police fire rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the protesting crowd at Wits University. CREDIT: eNCA / Bafana Nzimande
The minister called on university management to do all it can to ensure universities reopen.
“I have been in discussions with a number of stakeholders who adopted the multi stakeholder declaration on the 3rd of October and called for the universities to reopen and for learning to continue. Therefore, the non striking students cannot be held at ransom by a few striking students who don’t want to learn.”
PICTURED: Members of the media duck behind police vehicles for protection during violent clashes between students and police on campus at Wits University. CREDIT: eNCA / Bafana Nzimande
One of the clergy present at Wits University says protests on the Braamfontein campus were peaceful until a rogue group interfered.
"I want to commend the students and police that for five or six hours, they were able to protest peacefully. The problems came when a rogue element threw stones at the Great Hall, breaking windows. It put security in danger and that's when police reacted," Father Matthew Charlesworth of the Catholic Church said.
Wits University chaplain and mediator Father Graham Pugin is recovering in hospital after being hit by a stray rubber bullet during protests.
Father Matthew said he'd been informed that police had fired into the church grounds midday, which is when Father Graham was struck, adding that the students were "visibly upset and angry" at what they witnessed.
The protest at the Wits campus moved onto the streets of Braamfontein in central Johannesburg where students went on the rampage, setting alight a bus.
CREDIT: eNCA / Bafana Nzimande
PICTURED: Protesters throw stones at firefighters attending to the burning bus in Braamfontein. CREDIT: eNCA / Bafana Nzimande
Wits University says lectures will continue throughout the week, despite the protests around campus.
The university says it remains committed to talks with students however it can’t come at the expense of the academic programme. Management also guarantees that no student will be barred from writing examinations over unpaid fees.
Most of the country’s universities remained closed on Monday as running battles between police and protesting students, demonstrating under the #FeesMustFall banner.
Wits has called for an end to the protests adding that there will be no amnesty for anyone involved in criminal activities. - Additional reporting: eNCA