The University of the Witwatersrand’s Student Representative Council (SRC) moved to disavow itself from riots in Braamfontein which saw a campus bus set light while the students and driver were aboard it on Tuesday night.
A police van and Rea-Vaya bus were also set alight.
Wits SRC @WitsSRC tweeted: “We condemn & distance ourselves from the burning of a Wits bus that was in transit. We will provide trauma counseling for those affected”.
Wits spokeswoman Shirona Patel said it appeared that the fire-starter was also on board at the time.
She said: “Wits University was alerted at about 9.30 last night that one of our buses travelling in the Parktown area was set alight in Queens Road.
“There were about 15 people on the bus and it seems as if one of them started the fire and the other students smelled the petrol‚ saw the fire then they alerted the bus driver.”
EyeWitness News quoted a student who had been on the bus‚ who said: “As the bus turned around the corner it started burning. People started screaming and then the bus driver got off the bus and people had to struggle to get off the bus. It was very traumatising to think that exams are around the corner and we were on our way to school to study.”
Patel said: “Wits University condemns these acts of violence and the violence that occurred in Braamfontein late yesterday [Tuesday] afternoon.
“These are criminal acts of arson that put the lives of students and others at risk. Wits University is looking at its bus routes this morning and is looking at how it can secure the bus routes and add security onto every bus to ensure that students can commute safely between campuses.”
Earlier‚ the driver and passengers of a Rea-Vaya bus were ambushed and ordered off before it was torched‚ and a police van was also set alight as police as rioters engaged in running battles with police on the streets of Braamfontein.
While Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) spokeswoman Edna Mamonyane said on Tuesday night of the police van that “we are not sure if it was burnt by students or not”‚ a student leader last week called for an escalation of protest action on the street of Johannesburg.
Speaking after #FeesMustFall leader Mcebo Dlamini was denied bail last Wednesday‚ Vuyani Pambo said: “The time of hiding the truth is gone. We are demanding our right‚ we are demanding education…We must increase these numbers. We must tell everyone and close these streets. Make sure we are in large numbers. We must occupy Johannesburg.”
JMPD’s Wayne Minnaar said on Wednesday morning that roads had been reopened and the scene was calm‚ but being closely monitored.
“We have deployed huge numbers every time the students protest. I can confirm that this morning the roads are fine and they have been cleared and the vehicles that were torched have been removed‚” he said.
– TMG Digital