PRETORIA – Violence broke out and police fired rubber bullets outside the Union Buildings on Friday afternoon where some students were still waiting for President Jacob Zuma to address them in regards to university fee increases.
This was taking place as Zuma announced via a televised address from inside the Union Buildings to the nation that there would be no university fee increases for 2016.
After Zuma announced the 0% fee increase, a scuffle broke out between a section of students and police near the top of the Union Building lawns, with police firing rubber bullets stun grenades at students who remained from the demonstration that at its peak numbered thousands of people.
A group of students managed to evade the police line, and went behind it. Police chased them up the stairs.
Some returned to the lawns, where other students were pushing a burning portable toilet.
Further away on the street, singing and marching could be heard, but those who had waited at the seat of the presidency since Friday morning had not yet been informed of the decision.
Zuma had spent several hours meeting with student leaders and university management teams as thousands of students marched to the Union Buildings expecting to be addressed by the president.
Violence later erupted at the Union Buildings with police firing tear gas, stun grenades and using a water cannon to deal with a minority of students – many of them wearing ANC Youth League, Sasco, EFF and Armsa T-shirts – who had taken up position by a fence erected on the south lawns.
The students tore down the fence and threw stones and other objects at police, who were present in numbers and in riot gear.
In his address, Zuma said: “On the matter at hand, we agreed that there will be a zero increase of university fees in 2016. Discussions will continue looking at broader issues than the fees.”
“It was agreed that the vice-chancellors will extend the time for the examinations period to compensate for the time lost. In the long term, there is a package of issues that was raised at the meeting that needs to be followed up.”
“These include free education, institutional autonomy, racism and what the students call ‘black debt’