Over a week ago, students at the University of the Witwatersrand’s main campus in Braamfontein, Johannesburg organized a march and a sit-in to protest the university’s plan to increase tuition by 10.5-percent in the coming year and the upfront registration fee by 6-percent. Many students said the tuition hike would shut them out of continuing their education, so they decided to shut the campus down.

Soon, the hashtag #WitsFeesMustFall  (started by the Wits Progressive Youth Alliance) began spreading across Twitter, inspiring students across South Africa to join the national #FeesMustFall protests.

In addition to Wits, students at the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University, Fort Hare University, University of Limpopo, Stellenbosch University, the University of the Free State, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the University of Pretoria, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, the Tshwane University of Technology, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal have all joined the movement, which has been fueled by social media.

Wednesday, hundreds of students took their grievances directly to Parliament to protest an agreement between the Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, and university vice chancellors that would cap the tuition increase at 6-percent.

During the session, all representatives from the Economic Freedom Fighters, a political party, were thrown out of the National Assembly when they began chanting, “Fees must fall.”  The ANC, South Africa’s ruling party, condemned the EFF for “hooliganism.”

Outside of Parliament, student protesters were met by heavily armed riot police who used tear gar and flash bang devices to try to break up the demonstration.

Several students have been arrested in #FeesMustFall protests, but they’ve vowed to continue the fight for free higher education. They’ve also won support for their movement from people around the globe.

South African President Jacob Zuma has yet to comment on the protests, but many have said the #FeesMustFall protests remind them of the 1976 Soweto uprisings.

Imraan Christian

Imraan Christian

For more information on the growing #FeesMustFall protests follow The Daily VoxAfrica is a Country, and the Mail & Guardian.

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