JOHANNESBURG – The University of Witwatersrand Student Representative Council on Thursday distanced itself from violence against feminists and members of the gay and transgender community during the #FeesMustFall protest.
SRC President Nompendulo Mkhatshwa said: “The university being a space of intellectual discourse, students should have the freedom to disagree and to interrogate the system without fear or intimidation”.
Mkhatshwa said members of the SRC had witnessed verbal assaults and physical “manhandling” of students during the protest on Monday.
“We witnessed students being strangled and manhandled in the most disgusting ways by entitled men who seek to erase and exclude groups that do not fit a patriarchal agenda,” said Mkhatshwa.
The SRC’s concern comes after a group of students held a strike on Monday at the university’s Braamfontein campus where a fire was started at a lecture theatre.
The institution’s spokesperson Shirona Patel on Tuesday said: “The University has requested the police to intervene and to arrest the individuals for their criminal behaviour and for contravening a court order that was granted earlier this year”.
Patel announced on Tuesday that the institution will be suspending individuals from the university who had been involved in torching the lecture hall.
“Suspension orders are being issued to individuals who are Wits staff or students and barring orders have been put in place for all non-Wits members who engaged in illegal activities,” said Patel.
The university resumed classes on Tuesday following the deplotment of additional security on campus.