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Protesting students of UJ.

The University of Johannesburg has spent up to R15m on private security services across its four campuses since the Fees Must Fall protests started in October last year.

Vice Chancellor Ihron Rensburg said they had brought in private company Fidelity to quell the sometimes sporadic protests by students demanding free tertiary education.

The university was operating with three units of security personnel – depending on the level of risk.

“We have 200 UJ staff, another 400 that were outsourced – provided by Fidelity – but will be insourced from the first of October. The third part is the crowd controllers, or what the students call bouncers, also brought in by Fidelity,” Rensburg said.

 Up to 50 “crowd controllers” were brought in when the level of risk was defined as high, he said.

The university has been on high alert this week, following protests that saw some students try to interrupt lectures and occupy libraries.

“The 400 are not your hard-nosed crowd controllers; they are typically there to observe and report and control access at the gate, so they have a lighter role to play. Universities are not in the business of crowd control. This is why this third unit; we had to bring in people who are allegedly competent in crowd control situation.”

Van Rensburg said they needed to beef up security to protect 99% of the students continuing with academic activity.

Tension has heightened at various universities since Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that poor students would not be slapped with a fee increase but recommended an 8% increase for students whose parents earned more than R600 000 per annum.