Thirty South Africa students were arrested after clashes with police outside parliament, authorities said Thursday, as President Jacob Zuma said he would meet student leaders over rising university fees.
Hundreds of students forced their way through the gates of the parliament complex in Cape Town on Wednesday, scuffling with police who used stun grenades to force them back from the national assembly building.
“Thus far, 30 students have been arrested in regards to the incident outside parliament and they are likely to face charges including trespassing and public violence,” police said in a statement.
“The manner in which some students forced their way into parliament in Cape Town today and the alleged damaging of motor vehicles nearby are a cause for concern,” the statement said.
“The behaviour of those students is unacceptable and should not be condoned in any way.”
The statement said police had been “constantly provoked by the students”.
Protests began in Johannesburg last week following proposed fee hikes at the University of the Witwatersrand, and demonstrations have since spread to campuses across the country.
The presidency announced Zuma would meet student leaders on Friday in Pretoria “to discuss the stalemate with regards to university fee increases”.
“It is important that we work together to find solutions,” Zuma said.
“Nobody disagrees with the message that students from poor households are facing financial difficulties and possible exclusion.”
Human rights organisation Amnesty International has called for the police to use restraint.
“We are alarmed by reports of police officers using tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters,” Amnesty’s southern Africa director Deprose Muchena said.
“Students have a right to express their grievances peacefully and police must respect this right.”