HUNDREDS OF staff members at Wits University have pledged their support to students in their protest against what they call unfair registration processes.
A cleaner who did not want to be named said she has seen students sleeping in libraries and computer labs because they have no accommodation.
“They are hungry and sometimes we buy them food because we feel sorry for them,” she said.
She said both workers and students feel victimised by the university.
“Imagine they say that they have no money but they can hire bouncers.”
National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) Wits branch chairperson Sam Mangena was at the university yesterday to show solidarity with the students. The union leader said students need to be given a fair chance to plead their case to university management.
“We will support students until everything is solved. There is no way students can embark on a hunger strike and us parents [staff] watch them suffer and say ‘oh shame’,” he said.
Despite the protest, classes were continuing and registration for the 2019 academic year was still under way.
Several other universities have also seen protests since Monday as students complained about unfair registration processes and accommodation shortages, among others.
Student protests forced the suspension of classes at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban University of Technology (DUT) and the Mangosuthu University of Technology this week.
The protest at DUT turned violent, resulting in the death of student Mlungisi Madonsela during clashes between security guards and students. DUT SRC president Sesiyanda Godlimpi accused security guards of killing Madonsela.
He said the student representative council has been fighting for the realisation of free education as promised by former president Jacob Zuma.
“Majority of first-year and returning students are blocked from registration simply because they cannot afford to pay either registration or they are owing the institution, yet they were promised free education by the former president.”
Meanwhile, police said no one had been arrested in connection with Madonsela’s death. Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said the investigation was continuing.