Watch Wits university students Protests video

Wits students take a knee during this week’s protests – Photo: @Lebotshangela / Twitter

Arrested Wits students in court for bail application

Four students were charged with counts of public violence on 15 March 2021, and two received bail earlier this week.

Watch Wits university students Protests video

Wits students take a knee during this week’s protests – Photo: @Lebotshangela / Twitter

Two students who were arrested in Braamfontein, Johannesburg last week in connection with the Wits protests will appear in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on Friday to apply for bail.

As reported by Eyewitness News, the students were arrested on 15 March 2021 after they blocked roads with stones and rubble during the National Shutdown over university fees.

Wits protest: What you need to know

Students arrested, charged with public violence

They were remanded in custody due to pending cases in Stellebosch and will be charged with counts of public violence. Early on Friday, a group of Wits students showed their support by “demonstrating outside the court”.

Mpendulo Mfeka, Wits student representative council president, told the media the movement couldn’t afford to “have them in prison”.

“It was agreed that during the preliminary stages that we can’t afford to have them in prison […] so that is why we are [demonstrating] outside the Johannesburg Magistrates Court.”

Bail applications

Four students were arrested on 15 March 2021 following protest action in Johannesburg. However, two students appeared in court earlier this week and were granted bail.

As reported by eNCA, the students’ defence lawyer “was pushing that they get a bail application and hearing [on 16 March]”, however, the magistrate agreed to an extension for Friday, 19 March.

“Two are on bail and two others are said to not received bail because […] they had pending cases [in Stellenbosch] and their lawyer was yet to give us a sense of why they believed they should also be out on bail”.

Watch: Wits students apply for bail

NSFAS funding

News reports at the time confirmed that students blocked Empire Road to disrupt traffic flow after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande on Monday revealed there was no funding for new university students.

Cabinet agreed to a comprehensive review of the student funding policy and Nzimande explained that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) was experiencing a funding shortfall for the 2021 academic year.

The Cabinet met on Wednesday and discussed the matter of the funding shortfall at NSFAS. Nzimande said government remains committed to support deserving students with access to higher education.

Now read: Wits calls for national intervention into debt crisis