Universities to reopen despite student protests
Demonstrations over the cost of university education, which is prohibitive for many black students, have highlighted frustration at enduring inequalities more than two decades after the end of apartheid.
Confrontation is taking place between the protesting students and the police on the one hand and between opposing groups of students on the other. This is the third week of demonstrations since Minister of Education Blade Nzimande announced an increase of student fees in 2017 by almost eight percent. Protesting students insist that there should be no fees whatsoever. They base their demands on what they say were promises made by the government.
The most seriously affected universities on 29th Sept were Cape Town, Western Cape, Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in the city of Port Elizabeth. Protesting students threw petrol bombs and clashed with police and security guards in Cape Town. At the nearby University of Western Cape students marched from building to building to disrupt lectures. They sang songs of protests and warned that demonstrations would not stay peaceful.
At the University of the Witwatersrand students leading the "fees must fall campaign" confronted a group of students carrying placards and banners with the message: "take Wits back". These students want to go back to classes..
The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg saw the worst clashes on 4th Oct, with students overturning a police car and throwing stones, while police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. During the protest students danced the “toyi-toyi” – a common display of protest throughout decades of struggle against white rule.
Wits said in a statement on 8th Oct that it would reopen the sam day on several conditions, with students allowed to protest peacefully only in designated areas. “We are committed to completing the 2016 academic programme and to ensuring that examinations are written,” Wits said, adding that it has revised its calendar for 2016. The academic year in South Africa lasts from February to December.