By Laura Pisanello and Nozipho Mpanza
A small group of Wits students held a demonstration on campus today to show solidarity with the students at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN).
The group of about 40 students marched around main campus and were seen on Amic Deck, West Campus and in front of the Great Hall.
“We’re not happy with what’s been going on there. The raping of girls, the shooting of students,” said 3rd year Law and Politics student, Robyn Khumalo.
UKZN has now been closed until Monday September 19, following violent protests on various campuses. The protests are supposed to be in connection with various issues faced by the students at the university including tuition fees, scarcity of accommodation and the presence of private security on campuses.
“We’re saying [that] as students of Wits University, we support them and when one university student is affected, we’re all affected,” said Khumalo.
Students present at the demonstration said it was a leaderless movement. No formal list of demands has been drafted and the students said they were using today’s demonstration to mobilise the campus and recruit numbers.
“The moment that it seems that management is supressing a particular view and is unwilling to engage, it gets us to a point where students are resorting to alternative means of engagement,” said SRC President Nompendulo Mkhatshwa who was participating in the demonstration.
According to those at the demonstration, UKZN students have been protesting for weeks, but received little attention from the mainstream media until university property was damaged. The students expressed frustration at the manner in which issues that arise on campuses that are not Wits or UCT are handled in the media.
“The greatest concern, as student activists and as student leaders, is how quickly the media is to capture the story only once a building has burnt,” said Mkhatshwa.
During interviews, some students accused the SRC of not responding adequately to the issue which has “been happening for the past six weeks”, then subsequently “hijacking” the demonstration.
“When student governance structures are there, there is a level of protection that is then given and it becomes easier to engage management,” said Mkhatshwa in response to the accusation.
VIDEO: Students gathered around Wits Main Campus to show solidarity with students at UKZN.
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