JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg said on Sunday it will remain closed on Monday as student protests are set to continue despite a pledge by South African President Jacob Zuma that university fees will not be hiked next year.
Protests against tuition increases started at the university, known as “Wits”, almost two weeks ago and spread to other campuses nationwide.
A spokeswoman for Wits confirmed that the university would remain shut. The school’s Senate will meet on Monday to decide when to resume classes.
“Our students have decided to continue with their protest,” the university said in a statement.
“We are disappointed at their decision, as we feel that it will put in jeopardy the academic futures of many students who will not be able to pass or graduate. This will only further entrench and deepen the inequalities in our society,” it said.
Local media reported that the students still wanted a range of issues addressed including the outsourcing of staff at Wits.
The angry demonstrations over the cost of university education – prohibitive for many blacks – highlight frustration at the inequalities that persist two decades after the end of white-minority rule.
The campaign appeared to reach a climax on Friday, when police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at stone-throwing students on the grounds of the Union Buildings, the seat of government in Pretoria.
Zuma on Friday made the promise that fees would not be increased, a political victory for the emerging post-apartheid ‘Born Free’ generation.
The rand currency touched a 3-1/2 week low against the dollar on Friday as the protests – and questions around how the fee freeze may impact fragile government finances – dented investor sentiment to Africa’s most advanced economy.