Take Back Wits marchers beat a retreat after standoff with Fees Must Fall supporters

Protesting students during the fees must fall protest at the Wits University Campus in Johannesburg. Police shot with rubber bullets and threw stunt grenades while students fouoght back and threw stones. Students continued with their protest dispite a poll ran by the university to determine if students wanted classses to resume or not. The poll found that more than 70% of students wanted classes to resume. Photo Thulani Mbele.
Protesting students during the fees must fall protest at the Wits University Campus in Johannesburg. Police shot with rubber bullets and threw stunt grenades while students fouoght back and threw stones. Students continued with their protest dispite a poll ran by the university to determine if students wanted classses to resume or not. The poll found that more than 70% of students wanted classes to resume. Photo Thulani Mbele.

Take Back Wits marchers abandoned their protest calling for academic activities to resume after being confronted by Fees Must Fall supporters who demanded they “bring back the land” on Wednesday morning.

The arrival of the Take Back Wits students outside the Great Hall was also greeted with songs of “Dubula iBhunu” (Shoot the Boer).

On their way the hall‚ the scene of clashes between police and students on Tuesday‚ the Take Back Wits group had been taunted by white Fees Must Fall supporters who called them racists who were defending white privilege.

Earlier on Wednesday‚ the coordinator of the Take Wits Back campaign‚ Stuart Young‚ stressed that the demand that academic activities resume at the University of the Witwatersrand does not mean it is opposed to the Fees Must Fall movement.

Young‚ who was almost attacked on Tuesday for displaying a poster which called for the academic programme to be allowed to continue at Wits‚ said he was part of the Fees Must Fall campaign while he was a student at Rhodes University last year.

“There difference at Rhodes is that every student was taken on board and we were all part of the decision. But here at Wits‚ nobody is willing to take the views of other students‚” he said.

Young said he hoped that the Take Wits Back protesters will not be attacked for holding a different view when they march on Wednesday.

“They will threaten us but we will not retaliate. We will remain passive. This is a silent protest. We are not against the Fees Must Fall. We also have a right to access education‚” he said.

Young’s comments came as the Wits campus was calm on Wednesday morning.

Apart from a contingent of journalists and campus security‚ there was very little activity after it was announced on Tuesday that academic activities would be suspended until on Monday.

The police‚ who engaged in running battles with students on Tuesday‚ have been ordered to withdraw to the perimeter of the university’s campuses.

But the situation could change in the next couple of hours as both Take Wits Back and Fees Must Fall plan to march.

Wits said it suspended its “academic programme with a common objective to resume it in full on Monday”.

It said it had made “this concession because we do not want the scenes that played out on our University campuses” on Tuesday‚ when students and police clashed‚ “to be repeated”. – TMG Digital

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