Johannesburg - Student protests for free quality higher education are an opportunity for South Africans to demonstrate their patriotism, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said on Thursday.He was paying tribute to former ANC president Oliver Reginald Tambo on what would have been the struggle icon's 99th birthday. Tambo died in 1993 from an illness. Mogoeng spoke of the much-lauded values the long-serving ANC president displayed, telling guests at the event that although he never met the leader he learnt of him from a very young age.During his talk Mogoeng also spoke of the current fee protests at the country's tertiary institutions."We must never give students the impression that they are crazy," said Mogoeng adding that "We must engage them and explain to them," their position on the issue.Mogoeng said no one could claim to have a solution to the protests calling for free quality higher education, but said this was an opportunity for South Africans to operate as a collective in seeking solutions to an issue he said he was weary of defining as a crisis but wanted to view instead as a challenge.The Chief Justice also decried those who criticised the demonstrations from afar. He said even if leaders disagreed with students it was important to engage them to find solutions and stop the destruction of property."Students must be engaged. If we condemn students from afar without any meaningful engagement, we can only harden their attitudes."