04 October 2016
Naeemah Dudan is a 2nd year Bachelor of Arts student at Wits University. She writes for Salaamedia. This is what she experienced today. Images and video: Naeema Dudan
Contrary to popular belief and to what Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib has said Wits students do not want their own Marikana Massacre. It is sad, disgusting and completely unwarranted that in order for people to be heard, people should die. Will they listen then? Will they stop their stun grenades, their teargas, and their rubber bullets? Will they stand in silence with their loaded guns and weaponry as they question the youth who died fighting for an education?
Wits University decided that today it would open its doors again and allow the “silent majority” to proceed with their studies. This followed a poll that the university ran regarding whether or not students and academic staff wanted the academic programme to continue.
The heavy police presence made it extremely difficult for some students to continue learning as they found the police force extremely intimidating. Habib said that the security was necessary in order allow the programme to go on as usual.
In an email sent out to students yesterday the executive management team stated that the police would be allowed to disperse any group before it becomes large enough to cause a problem.
Today, protestors who were singing, gathered on the main road within the campus and police attacked them from both sides. They threw stun grenades, teargas and fired rubber bullets which injured several students including myself.
After protestors were dispersed they reappeared near the steps of the Great Hall. One student carried flowers to the cops in an attempt to signal peace. The students thereafter marched to the Hillbrow police station where two comrades were being held after being arrested earlier morning. While the SRC commit to a shutdown, the university has said that the academic program will continue tomorrow.
For you as a non-student who may be reading this, here are some pointers on what to do regarding the current education crisis.
- Do not be apathetic to the cause; whether you are part of the working class, a parent, or a school going learner. We are fighting for the education of generations to come so that you as a parent do not have to struggle, so that you as the working class do not have to work 3 jobs in order to barely make ends meet and so that you as a high school learner won’t have to worry about whether you will have enough money to eat as well as to study.
- Educate yourself. Do not just assume and jump to conclusions based on what your neighbor who has no knowledge of the situation says. Do your own research and gather your own arguments from there.
- Do not trust the media. The media is a commodity that needs to sell stories to their audiences in order to make an income. In order to do this, they often sensationalise and exaggerate a story. They frame stories to capture your attention and in a way that it only covers one side of the events that have unfolded.
- Support your children. They are fighting for a better country that will generate and allow those who are underprivileged to succeed. Do not condemn their fight for education but do not advocate and support the violence. We must have high morale and high discipline.
- Teach the people around you about privilege. Try and make people around you understand their privilege and help them to support the cause. The more people who are willing to engage, the easier it is to help achieve our goals of free and quality education.
To my comrades: Amandla!