On Monday, one of South Africa’s best universities was swallowed by violent protests. The demonstrators demanded free education and from this, hell broke loose. The Police were firing tear gas, rubber bullets and water at the protesters. The students were throwing stones in their dispute with the government.
Many people hurt
The police used stun grenades and even fired some warning shots. The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg quickly transformed into a war zone. This are some of the most violent protests which are part of a student movement. Recently, many other universities needed to be shut down because of it and received warnings. These warnings said that students may not be able to graduate this year.
An Anglican bishop who was present there said that students were throwing rocks at the police forces which were blocking the entrance towards the Great Hall. The bishop was previously part of another student movement and said that the police forces behaved like an army and did not wear IDs on their uniforms. This made them unaccountable.
Students are protesting
Some students set a bus on fire as helicopters circled around the campus. A rubber bullet hit a catholic priest in the mouth. The man needed medical care. The university officials accused the students of maiming or even killing innocent people with the rocks. Education Minister Blade Nzimande said that violence is not the answer in those times. He explained how the university’s representatives could not put the educational program into practice because of some students who he deemed “irresponsible and disrespectful”.
The police commissioner said that many students around the country started throwing rocks and disrupted classes in many other campuses. But reportedly, there is no need for national state of emergency. During Monday’s protests, the police arrested at least 27 students. Many other people, including two police officers, were seriously hurt and needed medical care.
The relations between the student leaders and the University of the Witwatersrand are extremely sour. The representatives are not even willing to meet in person and communicate through delegates. The chaos started when some students went through laboratories and campus buildings looking to disrupt classes. But worries started to arise when people were being hurt. A student said that this was not the first time when a police officer hit him and that he fears the protests would degenerate. People might even lose their lives in the chaos.
When it all started
It started in 2015, when a large number of protests forced the government to stop fee increases. After a recent announcement that the universities would raise the fee by only 8 per cent next year, protests started erupting again all over the country. But despite some funding problems, the government announced that it would cover fee increases for the poor students next year. But students are not happy because the country’s education system till has economic inequities . And according to them, they are not new at all. They went on unresolved and ended up bigger than ever. Now, it seems that they have erupted into violent protests all around.
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