Police fire stun grenade at student protest in South Africa

Riot police fire stun grenades at students protesting who stormed parliament precinct in Cape Town to disrupt Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene's interim budget speech

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Police clash with students outside South Africa's Parliament in Cape Town

South African police fired stun grenades on Wednesday at hundreds of demonstrating students who occupied the parliament premises in Cape Town, attempting to obstruct the Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene's interim budget reading on the South African economy.

The minister’s speech was delayed by 45 minutes from the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Party, requesting for the delay of the budget due to the ongoing student protests over the planned increase of tuition fees. 

"We need to find a sustainable way of dealing with the issue of financing education in general ... We do need to find a solution," Nene told reporters before reading his budget speech.

He later told Reuters that a process to shift money from other skills development funds to university education was already underway.

Tension broke out inside parliament with the EFF, but later forcibly removed out of the chamber by the parliamentary guards.

Subsequently, hundreds of demonstrating students requesting the government to revisit the planned tuition fee stormed the parliament's compound.

"We were pushed back by police with force. The stun grenade was shot right next to my ear. I still have the buzzing in my ear," said Motheo Lengoasa, a student at the University of Cape Town.

The Education Minister Blade Nzimande, tried to address the students, they waved placards writing "fees must fall, education for all" and "Blade must go."

Student revolt over tuition Fee

At least three students were hurt during Wednesday’s protest in Eastern Cape, as demonstrating students threw stones and burning tyres, while police fired rubber bullets in stun grenades. At least 30 people were arrested.

"Nobody disagrees with the message that students from poor households are facing financial difficulties and possible exclusion," said Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in a statement on Thursday.

Since Oct. 13, at least 15 of South Africa's universities witnessed demonstrations, which began at Johannesburg's University in Witwatersrand, the campaign went viral on social media with the hashtag #FeesMustFall on Twitter.  

TRTWorld and agencies