The University of the Witwatersrand has suspended all academic activity for the rest of the week, it announced in a statement on Tuesday night.

“Following the events of today, and considering the safety of our staff and students, we, the senior executive team of the University of the Witwatersrand, in consultation with the chairperson of council, have taken the decision to suspend all university activities for the rest of the week,” reads the statement.

The decision was announced through a statement on the institution’s website and social media accounts, following a day of running battles between students and private security and police.

A group of 31 students were arrested and parts of the university’s Great Hall was damaged when private security and students threw stones at each other.

Students, however, have vowed to intensify their protest.

They have been demonstrating since Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande announced government’s position on fee increments on Monday.

He capped increments at 8% and said poor students would not face fee hikes. He left it to individual universities to decide what their increases would be.

The University of the Free State and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University on Tuesday suspended all academic activities owing to the ongoing protests.

Attempts to hold talks with students on Tuesday were inconclusive, acting NMMU vice-chancellor Sibongile Muthwa said.

“We do not believe that resuming university operations for the next two days will be a viable option,” she said.

The suspension would allow management to talk to students about Nzimande’s fee increase announcement on Monday.

Essential services such as cleaning, catering, security and campus health would continue for those students living in on-campus residences.

Academic activities at the UFS were suspended until September 26.

UFS students on Tuesday vowed to continue putting pressure on the government and the institution until their demands for free education were met.

Meanwhile, University of Stellenbosch students damaged property and assaulted fellow students and members of staff on Monday and Tuesday, the institution said in a statement.

It would not, however, close its doors.

Vice-chancellor Wim de Villiers said they had tried to ensure that academic work continued with minimal disruptions.

He said the university supported fee-free higher education for poor students.

“Ideally, this should be the case for all students, but it is not feasible in the current economic climate without a substantial additional investment from government,” he said.

Stellenbosch intended to ensure that academically deserving students should not be excluded from higher education because of a lack of money.
In 2015 it provided R658-million to help students, according to their annual household income.

De Villiers said the disruption of classes, tests and other university activities was unacceptable and they would take disciplinary action against those involved.

Where classes had been disrupted, lectures would be recorded and made available on the university’s online portal, SUNLearn. – News24