Protesting students clash with police in South Africa

South African police have used tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades against students protesting for free education in Johannesburg.

Two students were arrested and another and one staff member were injured in the violence on Tuesday at the University of the Witwatersrand, or Wits.

Similar unrest has occurred since last month at other financially struggling South African universities, forcing a number, including Wits, to close.

The university sought to re-open on Tuesday; the main campus was disrupted, but classes proceeded on other Wits campuses.

Protesters said they want free university education to help close South Africa’s inequality gap, which is still largely divided along colour lines.

“Poor students can get government loans to cover their fees, but when they get a job they are also expected to support family members, so they say it was a double burden of repaying loans and trying to lift their loved ones out of poverty. They call it a Black Tax,” said Al Jazeera’s Tania Page, reporting from Johannesburg.

The students were angry at how President Jacob Zuma treated them at a meeting on Monday.

“When we arrived the president read out a statement and then he left,” Fasiha Hassan, a protest leader, told Al Jazeera. “They are not taking us seriously. We don’t come out on the streets for fun. It’s the only way to get anyone to listen to us.”

 

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