By Dinky Mkhize and Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG – Protesters at South Africa’s Wits University attacked police vehicles with rocks and overturned another on Tuesday, as violence in nationwide demonstrations over high tuition fees escalated.
Police fired stun grenades, rubber bullets and teargas at hundreds of students who marched through the university’s campus in Johannesburg, performing the “toyi-toyi” protest dance made popular during the struggle against oppressive white rule.
At least two people were arrested earlier when police moved in to enforce a court order on public gathering at Wits, whose full name is University of the Witwatersrand.
Demonstrations over the cost of university education, which is prohibitive for many black students, have highlighted frustration at enduring inequalities in Africa’s most industrialized country more than two decades after the end of apartheid.
Protests first erupted last year, then subsided as the government froze fee increases and set up a commission to look into the education funding system.
The unrest boiled over again, closing some classes and universities, when the commission said on Sept. 19 that fees would continue to rise, albeit with an 8 percent cap in 2017.
“Following yesterday’s harassment of our staff, we have no choice but to deploy police around campus,” said university spokeswoman Shirona Patel.
She said the university, which shut down during the earlier protests, had reopened on Monday, but some students had forced some of the lecturers out of their offices.
University authorities across South Africa have warned that any further fee freezes could damage their academic programmes.
($1 = 13.6200 rand)(Reuters)