Blade Nzimande sends senior team to Wits after protests, death

A ministerial spokesperson said once the facts had been established the department would then be able to institute further action.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has sent a team of senior officials from his department to Wits University to establish the causes of instability at the institution.

This was confirmed on Wednesday by ministerial spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi following the death of a civilian at the hands of police attempting to disperse a student protest outside the Wits campus in Braamfontein.

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“The team is consulting with the management and the council of Wits along with the police to establish the full facts of the instability at the institution,” said Mnisi.

“Once that facts have been established the department will then be able to institute further action.”

Students are crying foul because of financial exclusion by the university.

On Wednesday, Nzimande met with the cabinet to address funding issues at universities in the country.

Mnisi said the resolutions of that meeting would be announced on Thursday.

The SRC wants the university to allow students who owe up to R150,000 to be allowed to register and sign an acknowledgment of debt. It said that the university was refusing to do so.

Nzimande announced on Monday that students wishing to enroll in public tertiary institutions will have to pay for themselves or wait for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to confirm the availability of funding before the registration deadline.

He said the scheme faced a financial shortfall caused by the Covid-19 crisis and the country’s dire economic outlook.

Students continued with their protest on Thursday and said they would not be intimidated by police violence or retaliation.

They blocked Empire Road, demanding they be addressed by Nzimande himself or rather university Vice-Chancellor Professor Zeblon Vuilakazi.

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