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South Africa tuition fee protests: Students arrested in Cape Town

SOUTH AFRICA – Police have arrested more than 20 students at a leading South African university, the public broadcaster reports, as protests against a proposed rise in tuition fees spread.

South African universities close amid student fee protests
South African universities close amid student fee protests

The arrests came after students defied a court order obtained by the University of Cape Town (UCT), declaring their action unlawful.

The protests have spread to at least six universities.

It is the biggest action by students since apartheid ended in 1994.

The students, most of whom are black, say they cannot afford a proposed rise in tuition fees of between 10% and 12%, roughly twice the rate of annual inflation.

They also say it amounts to discrimination in a country where the average income of black families is far less than that of white families.

The demonstrators include medical students marching with stethoscopes around their necks, and singing freedom songs which inspired people to fight the former apartheid regime.

The protest started at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg last week, before spreading to UCT, Rhodes, Stellenbosch, Fort Hare and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Some of them have been forced to shut down, as students burnt barricades and stormed buildings.

At UCT, police fired stun grenades to disperse protesters who defied a court order preventing the disruption of lectures, the public broadcaster, SABC reports.

The protest at Wits university has continued, despite its management agreeing to suspend the increase in fees until talks place.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande is now meeting university officials to find a solution.

Universities should show “greater caution and sensitivity” when setting fees in order to “minimise the detrimental impact on poor students”, he said on Monday. BBC

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