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Wits confirms 14 arrested on campus – ‘not all of whom are students’

Wits University has released a statement regarding the people arrested on campus this afternoon.

The university confirms that 14 individuals, “not all of whom are students”, have been arrested and taken to the Hillbrow Police Station.

Those arrested, the university says, “have been involved in a number of unlawful activities on our campuses in recent days”, including “the unlawful occupation of the Senate House Concourse, attempted arson, malicious damage to property, the alleged burning of a bus, the setting alight of a mattress at the back of a library and the vandalisation of University property”.

Wits asserts that it “was left with no choice but to have these individuals arrested as they posed a threat to the 33 000 students and 5 000 staff on our campuses”, adding that the may also be suspended or barred from campus.

One of those arrested was reportedly author Panashe Chigumadzi, who tweeted videos from the police van.

Sweet MedicineChigumadzi is a Ruth First Fellow, working towards a postgraduate degree in Development Studies at Wits, and the founder and editor of Vanguard Magazine. Her debut novel, Sweet Medicine, was published under Jacana Media’s new imprint BlackBird Books in October last year.

Read the statement from Wits:

14 INDIVIDUALS ARRESTED ON CAMPUS TODAY

About 14 individuals were arrested and taken to the Hillbrow Police Station this afternoon for violating a court order obtained by the University earlier this year.

Some of these individuals, not all of whom are students, have been involved in a number of unlawful activities on our campuses in recent days.

These criminal activities include the unlawful occupation of the Senate House Concourse, attempted arson, malicious damage to property, the alleged burning of a bus, the setting alight of a mattress at the back of a library and the vandalisation of University property.

The safety and security of our staff, students and visitors to our campuses is paramount and the University was left with no choice but to have these individuals arrested as they posed a threat to the 33 000 students and 5 000 staff on our campuses.

In line with the University’s rules, policies and procedures, some members of the group, may also be suspended and/or barred from our campuses.

There are some that argue that the University is criminalising protest. This is completely untrue. The activities that we have witnessed in recent days are criminal, and we are responding accordingly. As a University we cannot tolerate criminal acts on our campuses.

There are others who have been involved in aiding and abetting these criminal activities on campus and they will also be held accountable for their actions.

Given the incidents that have occurred in the last two days, we have no option but to once again deploy a strong security contingent throughout our campuses, including on our bus routes. This once again redirects resources away from where it is needed most – accommodation, food and support for needy students.

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