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By Stephen Tau


Wits: Nzimande concerned about violent nature of student protests

Nzimande condemned the violent nature of the Wits student protests. A task force will be established to ensure the safety of institutions.

Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande has expressed concern about the violent nature of student protests at some of the country’s universities, including Wits.

This as students at Wits vow to intensify their protest action over funding on Monday if their demands are not met.

Student protests at Wits
Student protests at Wits on 3 March 2023. Photo: The Citizen/Reitumetse Makwea

In a statement issued on Saturday following a meeting with Universities South Africa (Usaf), Nzimande condemned the incidents of violence during the student protests.

ALSO READ: Wits students clash with police and guards as protest continues

Wits protest ‘unacceptable’

“Violent protests are wholly unacceptable and provide no solution to student concerns.

“In order to deal with these issues, using universities’ internal mechanisms, the meeting agreed that all institutions should urgently convene meetings through forums such as the Institutional Forums and with the leadership of the students, to deal with all outstanding registration challenges,” said Nzimande.

Call for a return to class

Nzimande urged all students to return to class in order to enable the commencement of the academic year without any disruptions.

“I would also like to urge all student leaders who have disengaged from various internal engagements with the institution management to return to those engagements,” Nzimande said.

Meanwhile, the meeting discussed many other issues faced by institutions of higher learning which included the late release of the matric results as well as safety.

Matric results delay

“The meeting also discussed the implications to the Post School Education and Training sector delays in the release of the matriculation examination results and its impact on the overall readiness of the start of our academic year and this included the decision by NSFAS to open application processes until January 31 in order to cater for the first time university and TVET college students. 

“This decision led to delays in the confirmation of funding decisions by non-SASSA NSFAS beneficiaries,” said Nzimande.

He said the meeting agreed that the Department of Higher Education and Training Director-General, Dr Nkosinthi Sishi, will engage with his counterpart at the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to discuss this issue going forward.

Wits protest ignite calls for task force

Nzimande reaffirmed the announcement he made in his statement on the occasion of the assassination of Mr Mboneli Vesele of the University of Fort Hare, that the Department of Higher Education and Training will establish a Task Force that will be looking at the safety and security of our institutions.

The Task Force will be working together with the Cabinet Security Cluster, according to Nzimande.

“The Department of Higher Education and Training is also considering a report I commissioned through the University of Zululand to look at campus safety and security and the report will soon be shared with all Vice-Chancellors,” Nzimande said.

VIDEO: Moment Wits protest in intensified

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ALSO READ: Cele sets up task team to probe Fort Hare attacks

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