South African police have fired rubber bullets to disperse protesting students at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) after a group of students had gathered outside the university’s Kingsway campus here campus as part of the #FeesMustFall protest.

“We were having a peaceful protest that was called by the Student Representative Council (SRC). We are meeting in terms of the free increment and our demand for free education because the Presidential Commission (set up by the government to study the fees issue) is just a delaying tactic. Even after dispersing they continued shooting at us,” said a student following Monday’s incident.

The main gates to the university have been closed. Earlier, students marched from the university’s Doornfontein campus to the Kingsway campus to mobilise more students to join the protests.

Lectures have been suspended and the library closed at UJ’s Kingsway campus.

Students at institutions around the country have been protesting for two weeks over the 2017 fee increment, as announced by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.

Meanwhile, the student leadership at the University of the Witwatersrand here is calling on vice-chancellor Adam Habib to engage the student body to resolve students’ grievances. They claim there is institutional racism at the university, especially at the medical campus.

A group of about 400 students marched from Braamfontein to the University’s campus in Parktown in Johannesburg. They also decided against marching to Habib’s home nearby.

Fees Must Fall leader Mcebo Dlamini said Habib was quick to engage the media instead of interacting with students on campus.

“The man said that in the last townhall (meeting), he said he supports free education. Today, he is all over the media lying to our parents talking in our name. We asked to meet Adam Habib so that we can give him our demands.”

Sporadic violence flared at some universities with 24 students being arrested in Northern Cape Province. Two staff vehicles were petrol-bombed at the University of Pretoria following student protests on the Hatfield campus. The university has now beefed up security.

The Tshwane University of Technology also suspended academic activities following students’ protests and at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) Pietermaritzburg campus, a residence was set alight on Monday morning. A student was arrested for possession of illegal liquids.

Nine vehicles, including three buses and a minibus taxi, were torched at the University of Zululand on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast.

In Eastern Cape Province, students at the Nelson Mandela Metro University are divided. Some signed a petition to resume lectures, while others are adamant the shutdown must continue. In Mpumalanga Province, university gates remain shut as students vented their frustrations.

The University of the Free State says academic activity will resume on Tuesday on all their campuses. However, students vow to continue protesting until their demands are met.


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