South African police have arrested several students at Wits University in Johannesburg during protests against plans to increase university fees for the 2017 academic year. Security forces dispersed a group of people who had allegedly blocked one of the entrances of Braamfontein campus, preventing cars from entering the building.
Around 50 students gathered at the entrance of the campus singing protest songs and preventing vehicles from driving into the campus, Eye Witness News reported.
Protests were sparked after the ministry of education said universities across the country can decide to increase their own fees for the next academic year. Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande suggested the increase should not be more than 8%.
Students want the university to halt activities. However, in a statement, the management said the academic programme will continue. The University acknowledged that some classes were being disrupted and added the police were assisting to "maintain law and order".
South Africans have taken to social media to comment on the issue under the hashtag #Fees2017.
Fees Must Fall protests
The latest protest echos last year's unrest, which turned violent in several towns across South Africa over plans to increase fees for 2016. Demonstrations began earlier in October 2016 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#FeesMustFalland#NationalShutDown.
Following vuiolent protests and frequent clashes with police in towns including pretoria and Cape Town, President Jacob Zuma announced in a televised speech that tuition fees would not be increased for 2016.