In South Africa protests over a rise in university tuition fees have escalated. At Wits University in Johannesburg, a rally turned violent on Tuesday (October 4).
Some demonstrators attacked police vehicles with rocks, while police used stun grenades, rubber bullets and teargas on the crowd as they moved in to enforce a court order on public gathering on the campus.
At least two people were arrested.
Protester and student leader Fasiha Hassan said:
“We have just been opened fire by stun grenades, tear gas, totally unprovoked. We were just marching as students, then they trapped us in a small space.”
Over 20 years after the end of apartheid, there is still disparity in South Africa and the rising cost of higher education is too steep for many black students.
Protests last year came to a halt with the announcement of a freeze on fee increases, but erupted again three weeks ago when a government-appointed commission said fees would continue to rise, although with an eight percent cap in 2017.
Hundreds of people performed the ‘toyi-toyi’ as they marched through the Wits (Witwatersrand) University campus. The protest dance became popular during the struggle against oppressive white rule in South Africa.
On Monday (October 3), South African President Jacob Zuma warned the widespread rallies could “destroy our universities.”
“What is happening on our campuses has the potential to destroy our universities but we have the power to change that working together,” he told an audience at an education summit.
“Government is committed to do everything possible to progressively make higher education more affordable,” Zuma continued.