South African police fire stun grenades as students protest

Oct 05, 2016, 00:05

At least two people were arrested earlier when police moved in to enforce a court order on public gathering at the university.

At Wits University in Johannesburg, a rally turned violent on Tuesday (October 4).

"We congratulate them because in our view they have listened to the ANCYL President (Collen Maine) who has been spreading the call that the youth need to study, thus going back to class was more than necessary", ANCYL national spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize said.

'There has been an attempt to disrupt lectures at Wits today, ' the university said in a statement.

Last year, students - many of them so-called "born frees", who grew up after apartheid - staged a series of huge demonstrations that forced the government to abandon planned fee hikes for 2016.

The demand for free education stems partly from wider dissatisfaction over economic inequities in South Africa, and the belief that universities and other institutions were not adequately transformed to benefit the black majority after the end of white minority rule in 1994.

He said now the government will have to spend millions of dollars to fix infrastructure damaged by the protests instead of addressing educational funding challenges.

"Wits is Ours", read a banner held up by protesters who accused police of confronting them first. Protesters also smashed the windows of a police auto.

"Following yesterday's harassment of our staff, we have no choice but to deploy police around campus", university spokeswoman Shirona Patel said.

Tselane described university warnings that the protests might force the cancellation of the academic year as a "scare tactic" and vowed that demonstrations would continue.

The university, along with many campuses across South Africa, has been closed for at least two weeks during protests over tuition fees, with violent clashes regularly erupting between students, police and private security guards.

Student protester Tshepo Thaela said: "It is a bit scary when you hear shots and then your friends are running".

The unrest boiled over again, closing some classes and universities, when the commission said on September 19 that fees would continue to rise, albeit with an 8 percent cap in 2017.

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