Videos 2: context for the new movement – 1990s Wits University protests

Following on from an earlier post, this presents some videos below extracted from old VHS recordings of SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation)  TV news reports. The videos below focus on struggles at the University of the Witwatersrand (“Wits”),  where the new South African anarchist/ syndicalist movement emerged as a strand in loose but very militant student political milieu — a milieu with close links to the (black) trade unions on campus. A full discussion of all the events shown below will take another post; for now, again, the point is to evoke the context that shaped the movement.

Video 1: 1994 — Wits management ‘hostage taking’ by workers & students (SABC news)


Video 2: 1995 — Wits students defy ANC leaders, trash campus (‘Operation Litter’) (SABC 1, English)


Video 3: 1995 — Wits trashing after Carolus, Sisulu visit (also OFS Technikon clashes) (SABC, Afrikaans)




About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m South African, born and bred. I have long been involved in union education, and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented or published 100s of papers conferences and workshops, published in key journals like 'Capital and Class' and 'Labor History', have co-edited 4 journal specials (these on global labour history, African labour, and unions in the Global South), and produced five books. I was Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). My focus has been on South Africa, but I have also done research in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I won the 2008 international 'Labor History' thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research prize for best African dissertation, for my PhD thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. My books includd include 'Politics at a Distance from the State: Radical and African Perspectives' (2018, co-edited with Kirk Helliker), 'Negro e Vermelho: anarquismo, sindicalismo revolucionário e pessoas de cor na África Meridional nas décadas de 1880-1920,' and 'Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution' (co-edited with Steve Hirsch, Brill, 2010/ 2014).