By Jay Caboz
Around 150 Wits staff, some in academic gowns, and students gathered outside the Bertha Road pedestrian entrance to observe South Africa’s national day of mourning on Thursday 23 August.
George Bizos, one of South Africa’s most distinguished human rights advocates joined the gathering together with Wits Registrar Kirti Menon, Prof Tawana Kupe, Dean of Humanities, and Prof David Dickinson, President of the Academic and Support Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU).
In a statement released by Prof Yunus Ballim, acting Vice-Chancellor and vice-Principal, the gathering was called as a public display from the University “against the ongoing violence gripping society” and to “encourage the public to stand up for social justice.”
The national day of mourning was declared by the South African government in memorial of the lives lost in the violence at Marikana and Pomeroy these past few weeks.
In commemoration of the lives of the 44 miners killed, students and academics stood on the pavement holding placards one of which said: “mourning all the victims of violence” as well as declaring the event as “our collective shame”.
A National Day of Mourning was declared by President Jacob Zuma. Memorials were held across the province and several streets in Johannesburg Central Business District were closed.
From Monday, the University has been flying its flag at half-mast also in remembrance of the lives lost.