On Friday, three private security officers were injured after a clash with protesting students who threw rocks and water bottles at them.
That didn’t stop the security guards as they threw stones back at the students. The students, who have been protesting since Wednesday, moved to the streets of Braamfontein on Friday, where they were joined by approximately 150 outsiders.
According to Wits spokesman Shirona Patel, the group of outsiders was dressed in political party regalia and broke through the Yale Road South and State Street gates.
“They were armed with water bottles, rocks and teargas which they threw at private security officers.”
“Three security officers were hurt and were taken to the campus health and wellness centre. They however did not require hospitalisation,” she said.
For around 20 minutes, students and security personnel battled outside the Great Hall before the demonstrators dispersed.
What began as a peaceful protest by a small group on Wednesday quickly devolved into turmoil on Thursday, when students torched tyres and used rocks to barricade the entrance at Yale and Empire roads, causing traffic congestion.
The demonstration was organised by the Wits student representative council (SRC) for students who could not afford the expensive housing prices because the National Student Financial Aid Program only offered R45,000 per year. The cost of university housing began at R51,000.
According to the SRC, anyone owing more than R150,000 could not register.
According to Patel, the situation simmered down on Friday afternoon, and university security was attempting to evacuate the campus of trespassers.
“Entrances have been closed and staff and students will be allowed to leave. No one is now being allowed onto our campuses. We have already illustrated our commitment to trying to support our students as far as possible, and address many of the systemic national issues.”
When it came to the student demonstration, the institution exercised caution, but also denounced acts of intimidation and property destruction, according to Patel.
— Thabo Tshabalala (@Thabo_Tshaba) March 3, 2023
— Saffa_unique (@unique_saffa) March 3, 2023
No student has been reported to be injured as yet.