Lectures resume at Wits with heavy police presence on campus

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Police monitoring the situation at Wits.

JOHANNESBURG – Lectures resumed on Tuesday morning at the troubled Wits University amid a heavy presence of police and private security guards.

Despite the violence on Monday that included running battles between students and police and security guards, the university announced lectures would continue.

Cleaners were seen sweeping the floors and steps of the Great Hall, the site of Monday’s battle.

Protesting Wits students affiliated with #FeesMustFall have vowed to shut down the campus until their demand for free education is met.

Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said: “The next 10 days are crucial in saving the academic year. The suspension of the 2016 academic year would jeopardise at least 30,000 students”.

 

She said the university did not have control over police or the actions they were taking to control unruly behaviour.

Acting South African national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane on Monday ruled out the declaration of a state of emergency following violent clashes between police and students at various university campuses.

READ: ACDP blames President Zuma for student protests descending into anarchy

Phahlane lamented the levels of violence and vandalism accompanying the #FeesMustFall protests, urging students to exercise restraint. He said he could not guarantee that there would not be loss of lives if things continued to escalate.

Some students at the Wits main campus began attending lectures on Tuesday morning while others were seen sitting in groups.

On Monday, running battles between protesting students and police as well as private security spilled onto the street of Braamfontein.

Police fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and teargas after hundreds of students pelted them with stones outside the Great Hall.

Protesters also threw stones at private security manning the Great Hall entrance.

Dispersed with teargas, stun grenades and water cannons, protesting students ran into Braamfontein, thrashing concrete dustbins. A bus was set alight and  a shop that sells Puma sports products was looted.