Johannesburg - Wits University management said on Monday if protest action continued, this year’s academic programme could be shut down.

“We are doing a review of what happened (on Monday).

“Many staff members were intimidated and threatened and told to leave their buildings,” Wits spokesperson Sherona Patel said.

“Management is deciding whether to resume with the academic programme (on Tuesday)” she added.

On Monday, protesting students declared the institution would not be opened until their demands for free education were met.

Patel said management had met student groups and political parties over the weekend and had agreed Wits would support the initiative to get quality free education.

Management had approached students and they had said their fight was national and they were sending a message to the government.

Security on campus would be increased on Tuesday, if the academic programme continued as planned.

“If we lose this week, the 2016 academic programme will in be jeopardy. If we close, it means we won’t finish the 2016 academic programme.

Thirty-seven thousand lives are at risk and some students won’t graduate,” she said.

Patel added there were 75?000 spaces for next year and if the academic programme was postponed, the institution would not be able to accept any students for 2017.

Earlier, using a microphone, a student activist who did not give his name, asked staff and the media to leave the venue because the university “was not open (on Monday)… and would remain closed until they have free education”.

The students then marched to various sections of the institution.

Meanwhile, universities in the Western Cape remain on high alert after Monday's protest action brought some of its campuses to a halt.

Student activists shut down UCT, University of the Western Cape and Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Bellville, Mowbray and Cape Town campuses.

Students activist Lukhanyo Vangqa said Monday's actions were as a result of the university vice-chancellors’ arrogance in dealing with student issues.

“They have shown largely arrogance in addressing our call for free, decolonised education and underestimated our mobilisation across campuses.

“This is a co-ordinated process and we know they will only respond when they believe their institutions are at risk,” said Vangqa.

He added that the protesters were peaceful and disciplined, but they would not be victimised for standing for what the believed in.

UWC spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said the university had received demands from students.

CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said its vice-chancellor had engaged directly with the protesters.

Classes had been suspended to to allow the university to evaluate the security situation.


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