Chaos in Cape Town CBD as fees protest spreads

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

CAPE TOWN — Fees Must Fall protests spread from Par­lia­ment to the streets of the Cape Town CBD yes­ter­day after po­lice and stu­dents clashed.

Vi­o­lence was sparked just be­fore 15:00 fol­low­ing a gen­er­ally peace­ful day when a mock Blade Nz­i­mande “cof­fin” was set alight and thrown from the pro­test­ers’ side over the heads of po­lice of­fi­cers.

A po­lice of­fi­cer ex­tin­guished the “cof­fin”. Stun grenades were re­leased in quick suc­ces­sion, and chaos en­sued.

Pro­test­ers ran down Plein, Roe­land, Bar­rack and Com­mer­cial streets, fol­lowed by po­lice armed with stun grenades and rub­ber bul­lets.

Stu­dents re­tal­i­ated by re­mov­ing bricks from the Plein Street pave­ments, break­ing them in half, and throw­ing them, along with stones from a nearby ren­o­va­tion.

A wa­ter can­non was used to pre­vent pro­test­ers run­ning fur­ther down Plein Street, forc­ing them down a side street.

Flash points emerged at var­i­ous points in the CBD, which in­cluded the in­ter­sec­tions of Strand and Plein near Cape Town train sta­tion. Bins were over­turned and set alight in Strand and Bar­rack streets.

In Plein Street, a po­lice van win­dow was shat­tered, a sta­tion­ary civil­ian car was dam­aged, and the win­dow of a KFC was also dam­aged. There were also al­ter­ca­tions at Bar­rack Street and the corner of Plein and Roe­land. Lit­ter was strewn across many of the streets.

A per­son was also in­jured in Plein Street after an ap­par­ent al­ter­ca­tion with another pro­tester.

An eye­wit­ness, who did not want to be named, said the man had been hit with a half a brick and fell straight to the ground.

The in­jured man was taken away in an am­bu­lance, with a blood-soaked ban­dage around his head.

A man be­lieved to be home­less was re­strained by four po­lice of­fi­cers and bun­dled into a po­lice van. The rea­sons for his ar­rest were not im­me­di­ately clear.

Po­lice were clear­ing lit­ter and de­bris in Plein, Strand and Roe­land streets as at 16:30.

Through­out the af­ter­noon, the sound of stun grenades could be heard.

Ear­lier in the day, a few peo­ple were treated for heat ex­haus­tion.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han made a sur­prise ap­pear­ance be­fore his 13:30 mid-term bud­get speech, much to the stu­dent’s sur­prise.

A News24 re­porter asked him if he had any good news for stu­dents, and he an­swered, “a lit­tle bit”.

He signed the stu­dents me­moran­dum, but then had to rush off for his 14:00 speech. A stu­dent leader with a por­ta­ble loud speaker called him a “coward” as he left, and de­manded that Nz­i­mande meet them. The stu­dents de­mands in­cluded:

amnesty for ar­rested stu­dents, re­ferred to as “po­lit­i­cal prison­ers”; re­moval of po­lice and pri­vate se­cu­rity from cam­puses; free, de­colonised ed­u­ca­tion im­me­di­ately; They also ob­served a mo­ment of si­lence for stu­dents from the 1976 Soweto protests.

“We are hit at by the youth of 1976 which is a dis­grace. They want to kill us. They are trig­ger happy,” a stu­dent leader told the crowd. He said his­tory was re­peat­ing it­self.

The pro­test­ers were a mix­ture of CPUT, UCT and UWC stu­dents, as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tives from uni­ver­si­ties around the coun­try. Par­ents were also present.

The protest was gen­er­ally in­ci­dent-free be­fore 15:00. — Sapa

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