While finance minister, Pravin Gordhan today took to Parliament where he presented the budget speech, outside the heavily guarded gates, hundreds of university students continued their call for free and decolonized education. The protest, led by Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s (CPUT) Student Representative Council (SRC), included students from all major Western Cape tertiary institutions, including the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape, and Stellenbosch University.
Beginning slightly later than expected, the students began the protest outside the entrance of CPUT in Keizersgracht Street at approximately 12:30pm. The students were led by the student leadership, members of the clergy and were flanked by heavily armed policemen, police vans and casspirs.
Making their way through the CBD, protestors quickly arrived at the gates of Parliament, in approximately ten minutes, after they hurried through the streets chanting songs.
On arrival at the entrance of parliament, the students calmly awaited the arrival of minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, but were disappointed when they were met by Gordhan.
In what appeared to be a strategic move to garner support, the embattled finance minister flanked by police accepted the memorandum of demands tabled by students, but did not address the crowd.
Following Gordhan’s quick exit, students conceded to deliver a number of speeches by leaders of the movement, who represented the various institutions.
The students called upon Nzimande to address them and asserted their intent to remain outside the gates until they are provided with answers to their demands.
After a long period of standing around, singing students proceeded to burn a makeshift coffin of Nzimande, which they through over the police barricade and into the media area.
In chaotic scenes police dispersed crowds with stun grenades and numerous rounds of rubber bullets. Students retaliated by throwing bricks and bottles at police.
Students quickly dispersed into St. James, Plain and Roeland Street, which was speedily blockaded by armed police and casspirs.
Following the alarming scenes at Parliament, students and police made their way through the CBD, congregating at various points, which resulted in dispersed outbreaks of violent clashes.
As protests continued, businesses closed their doors, fearing looting and destruction. According to reports, a number of businesses were confirmed to have been looted during the protests.
Due to on-going clashes, the Golden Arrow bus service reportedly halted their entry into the CBD, forcing commuters to find alternate means of transport.
Clashes came to end at approximately 18:30.