The day students took on Parliament

2015-10-21 21:17
(Tina Hsu, News24)

(Tina Hsu, News24)

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Protesters chant 'Blade must fall' as Nzimande tries to address crowd

2015-10-21 16:39

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has come out to address protesters at Parliament.WATCH

Cape Town - Stun grenades boomed in the cobbled precincts of Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday as thousands of defiant university students tried to push their way into the National Assembly during a fees protest.

"We have done nothing," screamed one man with a riot police shield pressed into his chest, spittle landing on the policeman's face.

The policeman released the pin of a stun grenade. After a few screams, the crowd resumed pushing against the police line.

Parliament's visitor centre's door was shut while students sang.

Despite several stun grenades going off, students stood firm, singing the national anthem. The stun grenades set off car alarms and students screamed for a few seconds, but carried on trying to push their way in.

Police grabbed individuals and dragged them off ignoring the screaming and shouting, conscious that news cameras were trained on them.

"We want Blade, we want Blade," shouted the students in scenes unprecedented outside South Africa's democratic Parliament, as they demanded to speak to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.

Protests spread around country

Last Friday students at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg started protesting over a more than 10% increase. After an all-nighter, the university decided to suspend the increase.

But protests spread around the country with students taking to the streets under the hashtag #FeesMustFall. By Tuesday, Nzimande announced in Cape Town that after a meeting at the weekend, it was decided that fees should not go up by more than inflation - around 6%.

But students rejected this and intensified their protest.

By Wednesday, University of Cape Town students decided to take their demand to Parliament where Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene was presenting his medium term budget.

At least six protesters were detained after skirmishes with police with students shouting, ''Who are you protecting?''

Nzimande said on Tuesday that to write off student fees entirely, would be to write off R22bn, which would not be possible.

Read more on:    cape town  |  education  |  university fees  |  protests

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