Students and dismissed electrical workers have occupied the offices of the Wits vice chancellor, Professor Adam Habib, since yesterday, The university has indicated that it will be seeking a court interdict to have the protesters removed. 

LOCKED OUT: Two students were locked out of Professor Adam Habib's offices which protesters were occupying and demanding that the MJL electrical workers be absorbed into a newly outsourced company. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

LOCKED OUT: Two students were locked out of Professor Adam Habib’s offices yesterday while protesters occupied the space demanding that the dismissed MJL electrical workers be absorbed into a new company now contracted by Wits. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

Wits University says it will seek a court order to remove the protesters currently occupying the office of the vice chancellor, Professor Adam Habib. Around 20 protesters occupied the office on the 11th floor of Senate House on East Campus, around lunch time yesterday, and were given the option to move to another site by 6pm last night. After failing to move, the university declared it’s intention, via a tweet, to seek legal recourse.

The protesters, including members of Wits Workers’ Solidarity, and MJL electrical workers are apparently still in the office this morning which has been closed by Campus Control.

The protest comes after a protracted dispute with Wits management over the  fate of the electrical workers who were left jobless after the university ended its contract with their company, MJL Electrical. Last month, the group sent a letter to the vice chancellor blaming the university for not doing enough to help them. The workers have been in a salary dispute with the owner of the company, George Cresswold since early this year.

Yesterday, two students attempting to join the protest were locked out of the offices and staged their own sit-in in the lobby. A student and member of Wits Workers’ Solidarity, Mpho Massuku said, “They are not allowing us to come inside … Habib only allowed five people to go in and we are not part of them”.

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Advancement and Transformation), Professor Tawana Kupe and members of the Academic Freedom Committee were seen inside the offices.

Professor Beatrys Lacquet, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Information, Knowledge and Infrastructure Management), said, “The university has to continue with business as usual and we are dealing with the matter in due process”.