On 3 May the SRC held a protest to mobilise students to stand in solidarity with those who have been charged, Wits Vuvuzela reported. The protesting students demanded that the university drop the charges brought against the students.
Mgudlwa said the SRC believes that the university’s code of conduct was not contravened because the students had just cause for the protest they staged at Reshef’s performance. “It wasn’t a haphazard protest with no justification. The university has instigated charges which we believe do not take the underlying cause of the protest to account and are thus bogus.”
According to Wits Vuvuzela, approximately 50 students took part in the 3 May protest. The students sang struggle songs, waved placards and chanted “long live Wits SRC long live” and “away with the reactionary management! Away!” The group walked across campus and spoke to incoming vice-chancellor Adam Habib.
Wits Vuvuzela reported that Habib told the protestors that if the SRC wants a public trial they should inform management formally and they will look into the request. “These people are being charged. These are allegations, they have not been found guilty. That is what this process is for.”
Mgudlwa told Perdeby that the SRC suggested methods of dealing with the issue but they were rejected by Wits management. “We resorted to a march [on 3 May] asking management to drop charges. This was rejected. We are now planning on intensifying the campaign even further,” he said. He added that organisations like Cosatu, Sasco, the National Health and Allied Workers’ Union, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union and Young Communist League of SA have come out in support of their campaign.
“As the SRC, we believe the university has taken an active stance to ban protest by intimidating students by charging them with nonsensical charges. We believe it is our responsibility to defend this right as it is our most effective tool in fighting for our issues as students. This is why we are prepared to fight to the death,” Mgudlwa said.
Prof. Tawana Kupe, acting vice-chancellor and principal at Wits, told Perdeby, “Wits University supports the rights of all to protest peacefully provided that it does not infringe on the constitutional rights of others … An independent advocate will chair the disciplinary hearings scheduled for [this] week in line with the university’s policies, processes and procedures.”