Wits students suspended over accommodation protests

Wits University has suspended four students following violent protests last week.
Wits University has suspended four students following violent protests last week.
Image: Supplied/Wits

Students at the University of the Witwatersrand have been issued with notices of suspension after protests over accommodation problems last Wednesday.

The notice — seen by TimesLIVE — was served in terms the university's rules for student discipline.

The demonstrations were sparked by the university's student representative council (SRC) demanding immediate action after about 200 students had been sleeping in computer laboratories and the library due to not having accommodation.

Wits management said: “After last week’s protest, a number of students have been charged by the university for disrupting classes, for violating the rights of members of the Wits community and for malicious damage to property.

“The suspension hearings began today [Wednesday] and to date four individuals have been partially suspended. Others have received final warnings, which now reflect on their student records.”

Speaking to SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE about the disciplinary hearings, Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said: “The university is of the view that individuals who disrupt lectures, who violate the rights of others or who maliciously destroy property must be held to account for their actions.”

She added that the university would act decisively against those found guilty of misconduct.

Cebolenkosi Khumalo, who is one of the students who has been served with the suspension notice, told TimesLIVE that he and three other students received the e-mails at about 2.30pm on Wednesday and were expected to attend a disciplinary hearing two hours later.

He said that this went against a rule of having 12 hours between being served and having to appear.

“We tried to negotiate with management, and that failed. It is only when we demonstrate that we achieve our demands,” said Khumalo.

Following a meeting between the SRC, the university's vice-chancellor and deputy vice-chancellor, SRC president Thutho Gabaphete told TimesLIVE: “We reject the suspension of these students. We will not tolerate the victimisation of students because of student activism.”

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