Wits increases its security for future demonstrations with a rapid response unit.

Wits has announced the establishment of a rapid response unit as additional security on campus in reaction to student protests, in an email sent to university alumni in April, but has not been forthcoming with details.

The university said in the email that the unit has been established to address the delay in police response that was seen during previous demonstrations.
“The rapid response unit is essentially a group of security officers that can be deployed at short notice when situations arise. This capacity will be shared between universities in close proximity to each other,” said Wits in the email to alumni.

01_Rapid response

Wits buff up security due to continuing protests on campus.                           Photo: Nadia Omar

The presence of private security on campus has received criticism from some quarters in the past.

In previous protests when a lecture hall was set alight, “private security took about three or four hours to come, said Wits SRC secretary general Fasiha Hassan.
“We lost one or two venues because of the delay, yet they say we have this security. [Wits said] It’s costing us a lot of money and it’s very effective, however, we haven’t seen it yet,” said Hassan.

Wits Vuvuzela asked Campus Control as well as the communications department who the rapid response unit would consist of and how much it would cost but the university had not responded to these questions at the time of going to press.

Wits has implemented a permanent court interdict against some protest action that gives the university the right to act on any students who are found disrupting campus activity with demonstrations.“In addition to private security they [the university] are now using further legal tools to try clamp down on dissenting views,” said Hassan.

In the email Wits said, “our individual safety and security is tied to our collective safety and security. It is important that if one of us is seen to be under attack, then all of us must be seen to be under attack.”

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