Sudáfrica: Wits University students suspended, but not for partaking in fiery protests

Wits University students suspended, but not for partaking in fiery protests

Johannesburg – Wits University has suspended and charged five students for disrupting exams and violating Covid-19 regulations.

The university said the suspension of the five students had nothing to do with the protests that took place in the streets of Johannesburg this week. Students have blockaded traffic and burnt tyres on the streets of Johannesburg.

A government official, Mthokozisi Ntumba, 35, was shot dead, allegedly by a police rubber bullet, during the student’s protests. He had just left a clinic when he was shot.

The students were protesting against the university, calling for it to allow financially excluded students to be registered despite owing fees.

Wits University spokesperson Shirona Patel said two students were suspended for disrupting an exam and tearing up exam papers on February 8.

She said three other students were suspended and charged for violating Covid-19 regulations in February.

“Two students disrupted an examination on the 8th of March and tore up examination scripts. On the 9th of March they were issued with notices to appear before an inquiry which was held on the 10th of March, which the students did not attend.

“One of the students claimed that he did not receive these notices and he has been given another opportunity to appear before a university official today (March 12), to make his case. “The two students were suspended pending a disciplinary hearing which will take place in due course, in line with the university’s rules, policies and procedures,” said Patel.

On the remaining three students, Patel said they had breached Covid-19 regulations on February 23 and 24, this year.

“None of these suspensions or charges relate to protests that happened this week. I can confirm that these students stayed in residence last night,” said Patel.

Meanwhile, she said the university had held eight meetings with the student representative council (SRC) since January in a bid to iron out issues.

“In the last seven days we have reached out to the SRC leadership repeatedly. They agreed to meet on three occasions, including at 8.30am (Wednesday) and at 8pm last night (Thursday). “They did not pitch for these meetings.

“Wits management remains willing to engage with students to try to resolve these issues,” she said.


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