Standing in protest against violence in society

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, left, joins Wits registrar Kirti Menon, centre, and Asawu President, David Dickinson, in a march against violence. Pic: Jay Caboz

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.


Marchers line up along Jan Smuts Avenue in Braamfontein. Pic: Jay Caboz

Wits staff and students took to the pavements to protest violence in society. Pic: Jay Caboz

Wits flags flies at half-mast for Marikana and Pomeroy

The Wits University flag flies at half-mast over Central Block. Pic: Lisa Golden

Management of Wits University have decided to fly the university flag at half mast for this week in memory of those who died in the violence of the last two weeks.

In a statement sent to Wits news, acting vice-chancellor Prof Yunus Ballim said:

“As the Acting Vice-Chancellor, I have requested that the Wits flag be flown at half-mast for this week in memory of those members of our community who died recently in the violence at Marikana and Pomeroy. Events like these always leave us feeling that an important part of our humanness is being offended.

“Regardless of our distance from the event, we feel the blow of such violence as if we were right at its source.

“Importantly, the flag is at half-mast to symbolise Wits’ deep dismay and the continuing expression of violence that characterises social and institutional interactions in South Africa. Marikana and Pomeroy are only recent examples of this characteristic.

“Wits flinches with the same pain when violence is visited upon an individual or a group; a single child or a gathering of adults. Social justice cannot be allowed to reside in the stoning hand or the trigger finger of those with more power. This on-going violence is a part of our national and collective shame and it is right that Wits acts to disturb the conscience of our community – students, staff and the broader South Africa alike.”