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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Zuma calls for calm as student protests escalate in South Africa

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday called for calm and restraint as violent student protests against fee increases escalated across the country.

The president said he is seriously disturbed by the violence in some campuses.

Zuma reiterated that all citizens have the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions, but protestors should at all times adhere to the Constitution when undertaking protest action.

"We urge the students to exercise this right in a responsible manner.

"They must respect law enforcement officers.

"They must also respect the rights of others who are not taking part in the protests," said Zuma.

Zuma said he has directed the South African Police Service to act strictly within the confines of the law and the Constitution as they discharge their duties of ensuring the safety and security of all as well as protecting lives and property.

The president reaffirmed the government’s commitment to support access to education for all, including the children of the poor and the working class.

He urged university management, parents, students and all stakeholders in communities to work with the government to find solutions peacefully and constructively.

Zuma also extended his deepest condolences to the family of Celumusa Ntuli, a worker at the Wits University in Johannesburg, who died during a student protest earlier this week.

A new wave of student protests erupted last week after Minister of Higher Education and Traning, Blade Nzimande announced that universities can raise fees, provided that it does not exceed eight percent.

Due to the protests, some major universities have shut down.

The University of Cape Town said it would close for a year if class was not resumed next Monday.

Students have vowed to paralyze all institutions of higher learning if their demand for zero-percent fee increases is not met.
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EARLIER REPORT:

Violent student protests against fee hike escalate in South Africa

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Violent student protests against fee increases escalated on Wednesday in parts of South Africa, forcing the closure of several major universities.

The University of Limpopo became the latest hotspot where protesting students clashed with police.

Witnesses said police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the students, injuring several of them.

Press reports indicated that there might be some fatalities. But police in Limpopo Province denied that there were fatalities at the University of Limpopo during the violent protest.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela said reports about fatalities were inaccurate, adding that the situation remained tense and police were monitoring the protest.

Meanwhile, academic activities at some universities, including the University of Cape Town and the Wits University in Johannesburg have been suspended due to student protests that erupted earlier this month after Minister of Higher Education and Traning, Blade Nzimande, announced that universities can raise fees, provided that it does not exceed eight percent.

Students have vowed to paralyze all institutions of higher learning if their demand for zero-percent fee increases is not met.

Also on Wednesday, the Parliamentarian Select Committee on Education and Recreation said it is alarmed by increasing incidents of student protests in various tertiary education institutions across the country.

"While the Committee accepts and supports the call for free tertiary education for the poor, achievement of this goal should not come at all cost, especially with regard to the future of the students," said the Committee Chairperson Lungelwa Zwane.

Vandalism and destruction of property does not assist in resolving the challenge but exacerbates the problem and reverses the gains already made, she said.

The silence by parents in this debate is also worrying as they remain an essential role player within the education sector, Zwane said, calling on parents, churches as well as all sectors of society to engage students to dissuade them from any destructive behaviour.

"It is only through collaborative efforts by society in general that will we overcome this challenge," she added.

             

 

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