Calm has been restored at the Union Buildings in Tshwane after a tense stand-off between police and Fees Must Fall protesters on Thursday afternoon.

Earlier, when a government official attempted to address the protesting students, the crowd chanted “who are you?” and started shaking the fence, hurling rocks, sticks and branches at cops and officials over the fence.

Police then retaliated with stun grenades to disperse the crowd. Student protesters ran in different directions, but returned and regrouped.

They stood near the fence and began hurling insults at the officers.
Two nyalas moved to the lawns and students fled in fear.

Some protesters returned, but after some time the high energy simmered down and they left in small groups. Other protesters were seen hanging around across the road.

A small group which remained discussed how disappointed they were that the memorandum was not officially received, however they talked about emailing the memorandum to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.

Students also expressed disappointment at their lack of control over violent elements within their group.

On Thursday morning, a group of Fees Must Fall protesters marched to the Union Buildings calling for free tertiary education after weeks of protests.

The group had gathered in Church Square and waited for more students to join them. Eventually, less than 500 people marched along Madiba Street.

The group sang struggle songs and danced as they marched to the Union Buildings. Police kept a close watch on the protest.

Protesters held placards, some of which read “Blade must fall” and “Free education for all”.

Pupils wearing their school uniform had also joined the march.

Tshwane metro police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said the group had not been granted permission to march and that the march would be considered illegal. – News24