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.