SA Police fire stun grenades at students as Wits clashes continue

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 28 (Reuters) – South African police fired stun grenades and arrested one student in clashes at Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand on Wednesday, as country-wide protests for free tertiary education entered a third week.

Studies and examinations have been disrupted at several universities and many remain closed even after President Jacob Zuma on Friday gave in to the protesting student’s demands not to increase university fees next year.

Protesters run as they are dispersed by police officers during a protest over planned increases in tuition fees outside the Union building in Pretoria, October 23, 2015. South African police fired stun grenades and used water cannon to douse fires lit by students protesting on the grounds of the buildings where President Jacob Zuma has his offices, a Reuters witness said. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Protesters run as they are dispersed by police officers during a protest over planned increases in tuition fees outside the Union building in Pretoria, October 23, 2015. South African police fired stun grenades and used water cannon to douse fires lit by students protesting on the grounds of the buildings where President Jacob Zuma has his offices, a Reuters witness said. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Protests against tuition increases started at the university, known as “Wits”, on Oct. 13 and spread to other campuses nationwide.

Some students at Wits are demanding free higher education, as well improved conditions for contracted university workers.

“Most of the students have returned to the academic programme. We have about 30 students or so who have been marching around campus since this morning,” Wits University spokeswoman Shirona Patel said.

Patel said police had been allowed onto the campus to restrain the protesters. Some are suspected to have torched a bookshop overnight, local media reported.

The demonstrations over the cost of university education – prohibitive for many blacks – have highlighted frustration at the inequalities that persist two decades after the end of white-minority rule.

The campaign appeared to reach a climax on Friday, when police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at stone-throwing students on the grounds of the Union Buildings, the seat of government in Pretoria.

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