"It was an unholy situation at Wits today" - senior lecturer

Dr Kelly Gillespie, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Wits University, has criticized the presence of police at the university on Tuesday during #FeesMustFall student protests.

Speaking to #NightTalk's Gugs Mhlungu and Sizwe Dhlomo, Dr Gillespie described the impact of police presence on the Wits campus, as students shut down the university demanding free higher education.

It was an unholy situation at Wits today. It felt like a running war and a police state. It was terrifying

Dr Kelly Gillespie, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Wits University

Wits University management had said that academic activity would resume at the university on Tuesday, but students continued #FeesMustFall protests, which saw some students being arrested by police.

Protesting students at the university were adamant that academic activity would not resume at the university until free education is implemented.

Its not just a case of failure of university leadership. The university management is being put in an untenable position by a state that refuses to seriously engage with the funding crisis in higher education

Dr Kelly Gillespie, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Wits University

Dr Gillespie described how the presence of police at Wits University was problematic for an institution which promotes critical academic engagement.

She criticized how Wits University managed allowed police on campus, and how government has not engaged seriously in the country's higher education funding issue.

Universities have historically, in many parts of the world, been spaces that have some kind of autonomy, and that has often involved police not being allowed on campus

Dr Kelly Gillespie, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Wits University

As protests continued on Tuesday evening, the Wits University's executive leadership team announced that the academic programme at the institution will resume on Monday 10 October, following negotiations.

In a statement, the executive leadership team said that there would be a process of consensus between student groups, university management and other role places with the view of a General Assembly being held at the university on Friday 7 October.

This process will be mediated by former leaders of the Black Student Society and Wits SRCs, and supported by clergy.

Listen to the conversation below:

Watch an EWN video report of student protests at Wits University:


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