Reports from the ground of the students’ #FeesMustFall protest at the Union Buildings in Pretoria claim that political parties – notably the ANC Youth League and South African Student’s Congress (SASCO) and the EFF – have co-opted the movement and are causing chaos.
A largely peaceful protest by students marching against high fees for tertiary education turned violent after “students” wearing ANC and SASCO t-shirts started breaking fences and burning portable toilets. EFF members were also implicated in the actions.
According to Talk Radio 702 host, Redi Thlabi, and many other protesters on the ground at the union buildings, the alleged “third force” were not part of the student protest, and were met with boos and shouts for peace by the larger crowd.
The host stressed that the large majority of the students, including those wearing DA, ANC and EFF attire, were peaceful.
Many commentors have raised questions about the timing of the sudden violence, after a week of peaceful protest from the students’ side.
There are allegations that the ANC itself had planted disruptors to break the legitimacy of the protest – while others point to the EFF as being the culprits, having a history of distruption.
Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma, who was scheduled to meet with the students at noon, was meeting with ministers and student representatives over the issues raised by the #FeesMustFall movement.
Some protesters expressed confusion as to who the student representatives were, however, as leaders on the ground had boycotted the meeting.
At the time of writing, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko told eNCA reporter Nicklaus Bauer that the plan was still for the president to address the students – however this would only happen once the situation had settled.
Students have taken to social media to “name and shame” the groups responsible, while also distancing themselves from the violent disruptions.