South African President Jacob Zuma has announced that tuition fees will not be increased for 2016. The president made the comment during an address on national TV following violent protests in the capital Pretoria, where people clashed with police over proposed fee hikes. "We have agreed that there should be a zero increase," Zuma said in his address.
Students lit a fire near the Union Buildings where Zuma met with student leaders and professors to discuss the issue. Demonstrators also hurled rocks at journalists and the police, who retaliated with stun grenades to disperse protesters and deployed barbed wire.
Demonstrations began earlier in October after the government said it intended to increase fees by between 10% and 12%. Thousands of students took to the streets calling for free education and arguing that increased fees would prevent poor black youths from accessing education. Hundreds of people have also taken to social media to voice their dissent under the hashtags#FeesMustFall and#NationalShutDown.
Rallies quickly spread to several cities across the nation, including Cape Town, where students clashed with the police as they tried to enter the Parliament building to disrupt a budget speech being delivered by finance minister Nhlanhla Nene. Protesters also tried to breach the headquarters of the ruling party African National Congress (ANC). Some 29 students were arrested and subsequently charged with public violence.