Students at the University of the Witwatersrand are on a Hunger Strike
Students are protesting the financial exclusion of their peers based on historical debt.
The new academic year at universities across the country is off to a shaky start. Students at four major universities in KwaZulu-Natal have been in protest since Monday and are now joined by students at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University) today.
Students at Wits University, referred to as 'Witsies', have embarked on a hunger strike to protest a number of pressing issues. The first is the lack of student accommodation and the second, the historical debt preventing many from registering for the new academic year and/or obtaining their degrees as a whole.
The student representative council (SRC) president Sisanda Mbolekwa spoke to eNCA:
"We decided to embark on a different kind of protest today. A protest that won't jeopardize the safety of our students. It can't be that we leave the lecture theaters and go to our res rooms whilst other students are sleeping in toilets, libraries and boardrooms."
Listen to the full conversation below.
SRC goes on hunger strike youtu.be
Financial need, hunger and limited accommodation are the major issues experienced by students at South African universities. The 2015 and 2016 Fees Must Fall movement attempted to address these issues and did indeed make progress on some fronts. However, it has not been enough to change the plight of Black students.
Private security has been deployed by university management to 'manage' what is currently a peaceful protest. Footage has emerged, however, of students being manhandled without provocation.
Social media is currently abuzz with updates of the current situation at Wits University.
It can’t be that we turn a blind eye to how institutions of higher learning respond to mass mobilization of student… https://t.co/DXz7YmSpW2— #WitsHungerStrike (@#WitsHungerStrike) 1549344121.0
Students have joined the SRC in solidarity with the #WitsHungerStrike . We are occupying Solomon Mahlangu concourse… https://t.co/m3onTnZwuR— #WitsHungerStrike (@#WitsHungerStrike) 1549351971.0
In solidarity with those who cannot register because of finances. Left the classrooms to study at Solomon Mahlangu… https://t.co/rQbRLOi0vB— Kings_baby👑 (@Kings_baby👑) 1549350766.0
#WitsHungerStrike Management responds by hiring bouncers when students request to Register and have more accommodat… https://t.co/zwqTWsWsWl— sifiso (@sifiso) 1549352798.0
Wits management has chosen to reply to the protest by deploying Private Security to unlawfully vacate students and… https://t.co/cRAr937jYa— #WitsHungerStrike (@#WitsHungerStrike) 1549352066.0
Hungry for success Blackchild you are on ur own #witshungerstrike https://t.co/dno7VByPas— Melanated Pharaoh (@Melanated Pharaoh) 1549353252.0
Every student deserves a fair chance to get a good education, regardless of their financial situation!!… https://t.co/nb4SvWWJ8R— Andile Nzimande (@Andile Nzimande) 1549348102.0
#WitsHungerStrike @WitsUniversity really? Bouncers? To beat sleeping students? @AdHabb @SABCNewsOnline https://t.co/tu13f1wzEe— sifiso (@sifiso) 1549354762.0