Violent student protest raises concern in S. Africa

CAPE TOWN, Oct. 12 — Student protests at the Cape Peninsula
University of Technology (CPUT) continued on Wednesday, prompting a stern
warning from the South African government.

“It is completely unacceptable that a few people should continue to hold
our nation to ransom, including through violence and the destruction of
education infrastructure that we badly need to empower students and the
next generation,” said Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and
Training. Students at the CPUT have been protesting for days over the
suspension of four students in connection with an earlier demonstration on
campus. The protest turned violent at some point when students blocked
all roads to the university and tossed mattresses, bookshelves, bottles out
of residence.Some protesting students also got involved in violent
skirmishes and destructive conduct before the police intervened to stop the
chaos, according to Nzimande. He urged authorities and law enforcement
agencies to “deal decisively, and without mercy” with all these criminal
acts. “This is about a tiny band of people who harbour criminal intentions
and who are hellbent on destroying the lives and future of thousands of
students and their families,” the minister said. He urged student leaders
to engage in constructive discussions with authorities and other
stakeholders to deal with the many legitimate challenges that confront the
country’s higher education.The ongoing protest is reminiscent of the
widespread student protests over tuition increases that paralyzed all major
universities across the country last year. – XINHUA