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South Africa University students clash with police

South Africa university students protesting against increase in tuition clashed with riot police officers on Wednesday October 21, 2015 outside the Parliament building in Cape Town. This is the latest in a series of student demonstrations that have gripped South Africa this year.

Police clash with students outside South Africa’s parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday

 Police clash with students outside South Africa’s parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday. Photograph: Reuters

Police officers fired stun grenades and tear gas as hundreds of students tried to force their way into the building as the finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene, delivered a speech about the national budget. Television coverage of the protests showed officers holding shields and students, some of them hurling water bottles at the police. Officers and students shoved one another in the tense standoff.

At least one student was reportedly injured, and several students have been detained.


“We were pushed back by police with force. The stun grenade was shot right next to my ear. I still have the buzzing in my ear,” said Motheo Lengoasa, a student at the University of Cape Town, as others chanted and sang songs demanding the fees be reduced. “This looks like 1976 all over again,” Lengoasa said, referring to the Soweto uprising where police killed at least 69 students who were protesting against plans to teach them in Afrikaans.

Demonstrators march through the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg


 Demonstrators march through the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Photograph: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images

Many of South Africa’s universities have been hit by protests, some of them violent, by students demanding that the increase in tuition fees by as much as 11% be scrapped. Protests took place across the country, including in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Potchefstroom and Grahamstown. 


The demonstrations began last week at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg. Critics say the fee increase will further disadvantage black students, who are already relatively underrepresented.


First-year tuition at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where the protests started, ranges from about 32,000 rand ($2,400) to more than 58,000 rand.

Protesting outside court in Cape Town

"I am here to demand free education that was promised to us," Khanyiso Nkolwana, 22, a fashion-design student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, said at the Wednesday protest. "It was promised to us in 1994."

According to Chicago Tribune, the biggest protests by South African university students in the post-apartheid era were fueled by mounting anger over the widespread poverty and inequality that persists since the country's first multiracial elections in 1994.

The government allocated 27.5 billion rand for tertiary education in the year through March 2016, which equates to 2 percent of total government spending, Nene's mid-term budget shows. University student fees amount to 22 billion rand a year, according to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.
Sources: Nytimes, Chicagotribune, TheGuardian

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