Demonstrations for free education have been taking place since last month, as part of the ‘Fees Must Fall’ movement (Picture: AP)
It is feared that South Africa may be on its way to a new Apartheid after protests about free education continue to descend into violence.Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets while students threw stones at a building at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Several universities across the country have been forced to close as a result of demonstrations. Many students want to return to class, but have been prevented as a result of the demonstrations.
On Monday, huge groups of students confronted police and campus security while violence spilled out into the surrounding streets.
A protesting student runs past a burning bus off campus (AP Photo)
Riot police fire rubber bullets at protesting students (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
A riot police officer and private security guards attempt to detain a student as they clashed (Picture: Reuters)
People run in the streets during clashes between students (Picture: AFP)
The demonstrations are purported to be about higher education, but students say it is about racism and inequality in a society still plagued by the legacy of apartheid. Western Cape premier Helen Zille said: ‘There is no other way out of this. What we have seen is negotiation after negotiation; the goal posts get moved every single time.
‘It’s a deliberate strategy because people don’t want a resolution, they want a revolution and the challenge is you can’t assume people are acting in good faith.’ The demonstrations have tapped into deep problems in the country, where many black people are unable to get decent education, jobs or housing despite white minority rule ending more than 20 years ago.
At a meeting at the prestigious Wits University in Johannesburg last week, Mcebo Dlamini, one of the student leaders, was greeted with thunderous applause when he tackled the touchstone subject of race.
A policeman clashes with a student on the University of the Witwatersrand campus (AP Photo/Yeshiel Panchia)
A student walks by a burning bus belonging to the university (Picture: Getty)
Two South African anti riot police officers detain a man during clashes (Picture: Getty)
Two women take cover from the riots (Picture: Getty)
‘We are eager to restore the dignity of black children,’ he told the audience of about 1,000, which included only a handful of white people. ‘We want a free and decolonised education. We are not equal in this university,’ he said.
Over the last three weeks, campuses across South Africa have been gripped by the protests against tuition fees, which could rise by up to eight percent next year. The protesters have demanded free education, saying that poorer black students are being denied access to universities and good careers.
With several universities forced to close for weeks, the demonstrations have often developed into violent running battles as students hurl rocks, and police fire rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades. Student protester Tauriq said: ‘Free education is a way to achieve equality, to repair what people had to go through in the past.
A student from the University of Witwatersrand throws back a tear gas canister towards private security guards (Picture: Getty)
A student hurls a stone off the University of the Witwatersrand campus (AP Photo)
Students flee from a police vehicle amid the trouble (AP Photo)
Students hurl stones at police and security (AP Photo)
Riot police try to break up a demonstration (AP Photo)
‘It is about challenging the norms of society, challenging what people consider as normal. If you are not black, you cannot associate with this problem. ‘They (white people) don’t understand what it feels like to be in a mall and stand in a corner, and people assume you are going to steal.’
Tauriq’s mother, who is single, has four children and earns £366 a month.
Without a grant that covers his tuition fees, he would not be able to attend university – but many others don’t have the same support. The African National Congress (ANC) government has vowed to provide further financial help for all students from poor backgrounds, and said its aim is to provide free university education in the long term.