November 25, 2020

South Africa: Unrest students’ riot upsurge over education costs

Clashes between police and student protesters forced South Africa’s Wits University to suspend classes for the second time in less than a month, as unrest mounted again over education costs.

Police fired stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas at hundreds of protesters marching and dancing through the Johannesburg campus on Tuesday, demanding free education.

According to Reuters, Students threw stones at police and flipped one vehicle. The university said some protesters had earlier pulled lecturers out of their offices as they prepared to restart classes after an earlier shutdown called on Sept. 20.

“We have agreed to suspend the academic program,” university spokeswoman Shirona Patel said late on Tuesday. Staff at Wits – the University of the Witwatersrand – planned to open again on Monday, Oct. 10, she added.

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.

Protests first erupted last year, then eased off as the government froze fee increases and set up a commission to look into the education funding system.

The unrest boiled over again, closing some classes and universities, when the commission said on Sept. 19 that fees would continue to rise, albeit with an 8-percent cap in 2017.

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Théogène U

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