Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) – For hours the protesting students march through campus while the riot police wait.
As they move into academic buildings urging studying students out, some protestors wear bandanas around their faces, others carry sticks. They’re peaceful, but there is anger and frustration in their faces.
For more than a year across South Africa, students have been marching for free higher education — many of their parents fought Apartheid and they say this is their generation’s cause.
“…people need to understand is that when someone gets financially excluded, it is not just the individual being excluded but it’s the entire family, the black community.” [Mpendulo Mfeka, law student]
Government officials say free higher education is impossible in the short term. While they have promised to help poorest students, they have left fee increases in university hands and per student, government funding has actually gone down.
So for weeks, universities across South Africa have been scenes of often violent protests that have not only put this academic term in jeopardy, but at times spread into surrounding areas.
On Monday when protesters at Wits University reached the Great Hall, the crowd surged. Seabe [student leader] sprinted up the stairs where a column of private security guarded the entrance, urging them and the dean to open the doors: “The dean needs to open and she needs to open now,” she yelled.
“Otherwise,” added another protest leader, “they are going to start throwing stones.”
But the doors stayed shut, barricaded by private security, and stones flew.
Police responded with teargas, rubber bullets and stun grenades. And once again, their university’s main quad turns into a war zone…