Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib on Friday night pleaded with students who still plan to protest on Monday to listen to the poor black students they say they represent.
“These poor black students are saying that they understand the fight but they are not prepared to sacrifice the 2016 academic year.
“The majority of students at Wits are black. The argument of white privilege and that it’s the white students who want to get back to their studies just doesn’t fly any more.”
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Habib says his message to the concerned parents who want to see their children finish their studies this year is that he understands their pain and anxiety, but his main focus has always been to keep his students safe.
“That was a direct threat to my family. It went against everything that is decent. Even at the height of apartheid, we knew what our fight was and we knew what our boundaries were.”
The government has noted what it describes as a third force trying to destabilise universities. State Security Minister David Mahlobo said there had been attempts to hijack student protests as well as to de legitimise the work done by state security agencies.
Mahlobo said intelligence agencies were well aware of activities during these protests and knew who the agitators were.
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko urged communities and parents to work with the government to prevent students engaging in acts of criminality.