Student Representative Council (SRC) members at Wits University have convened in a mass meeting, expected to conclude in the late hours of this evening, on their plans going forward in the protests. It has been an eventful week in the streets of Braamfontein, as students took to the streets to protest against financial exclusion.
Friday was no different, this time protesting students attempted to pull down a miner’s statue near the City of Johannesburg offices in Braamfontein.
Protesting students are determined to make their fight a historical and unforgettable moment that will see free and quality education for generations to come.
They returned to the streets of Braamfontein, where attempts were made to pull down the miner’s statue, reminiscent of the Rhodes Must Fall movement in 2015, which campaigned for the removal of the University of Cape Town’s Cecil Rhodes statue.
“That statue represents colonialism, apartheid, and racism. That statue is of someone from Europe who came here to do his own thing, enslave them and steal our mineral resources and take them back to Europe to create jobs there. Why don’t we erect statues of black heroes who have led the revolution and led our people?,” asks Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) member Sicelo Kubheka.
Wits students intensify protests:
This is not the only change that protesting students want to see. Wits SRC members echo the Economic Freedom Fighters’ call for the renaming of De Beer street in honour of the late Mthokozisi Ntumba.
They also dismissed criticism that this undermines the true cause of their fight.
“We are under a very dark cloud and we continue to soldier on. What is important is that we are behind student activists as the SRC to say the De Beer street must be renamed after Mthokozisi Ntumba because his life cannot go in vain. He had just obtained his master’s degree, he was a student, he was someone who understands the importance of education. He valued that education can be used to improve lives and we throw our weight behind the move,” says Wits SRC Treasurer-General Kanakana Mudzanani.
The university refutes claims that seven of its students were suspended from the institution for their participation in this week’s protests.
As classes continue amidst the turmoil, the SRC urges the government to meet their demands and for institutions to extend their registration process for those who were excluded.
“We want government and management to meet our demands as soon as possible. As I speak to you at the moment online classes are resuming, so what are you saying to other students? You are saying you want those poor students to fail. We want the government and management to meet us halfway,” adds Mudzanani.
The SRC members say they have pledged funds to offer to the family of the late Mthokozisi Ntumba and plan to make a visit and pay their respects soon.
Wits still willing to engage students
Meanwhile, Wits University says it has made several attempts to meet with the leadership of the SRC and is still willing to engage with them to resolve their differences.
The SRC has boycotted two virtual meetings with university management – saying they want to meet in person.
“Wits University management representatives have held eight meetings with the SRC since January. In the last seven days, we have reached out to the SRC leadership repeatedly asking for engagements. They agreed to meet on three occasions this week including at 8:30 yesterday morning and at 8 pm last night, however, they did not pitch for any of these meetings. Wits management remains willing to meet with the students to try and resolve these issues,” says Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel.
Wits student protest in pictures: