Four students have been partially suspended for their involvement in the accommodation protest.

Three of the four students accused of the disruption of classes and violating the rights of members of the Wits community acknowledge their roles in a recent protest at Wits University. The students were part of a protest on March 4 to address issues of accommodation.

The three students spoke exclusively to Wits Vuvuzela but asked to remain anonymous due to the ongoing investigations.

Sizwe Zulu*, fourth year BA Law, is charged with damage to property. He admits that he was at the forefront of the protest, however, he says that no damage was done inside the lecture halls when the protest was happening.

“When you’re in a protest you know things can go bad so as the lead protester, you take responsibility to ensure that people with you are not angry,” he said.

“When addressing the accommodation issues there was no agreement [with Wits management], so we had to enforce demonstration so that we can be heard, but after the protests, we have seen the changes,” Zulu said.

A second BA Law student, Reuben Ndlovu*, who is charged with the disruption of classes at the FNB Building on west campus said that the protest was the most peaceful one in recent times and that no libraries or property were burned in comparison to previous protests.

“I hope the university drops the charges and opens a room for engagement to discuss student protests, its parameters and to discuss a permanent resolution to accommodation issues to avoid further protests,” Ndlovu told Wits Vuvuzela.

The third student, also a BA Law student, is charged with disarming a security officer who was on duty. “We were reviving a political consciousness that people after us can build on, however, we did not think the outcome of that protest would lead to suspensions ,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.

All four students were partially suspended after a hearing in the vice chancellor’s office at Solomon Mahlangu House on Wednesday, March 11. Buhle Zuma, senior communications officer at Wits, said the four are under partial suspension for 45 days. The partial suspension will restrict their access to the university precinct allowing them access to the university for academic purposes only.

“The order may also restrict residences [that] can be accessed,” she said. “Accordingly, the students are permitted to reside in their residence, attend classes and do everything necessary to complete their academic programme,” Zuma told Wits Vuvuzela.

According to the university’s student disciplinary policy, students who are found guilty of the charges against them can be reprimanded, given a warning or even be excluded from the university.

*Not their real names.

FEATURED : Four students who participated in the protest for accommodation at Wits University on March 4 have been partially suspended. Photo: Zainab Patel.

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