Thousands of students and workers who gathered at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) earlier on Wednesday morning have marched to the gates of Parliament in Cape Town.
Student leaders told TMG Digital that they intended for the march – in support of their demand for free tertiary education – to be peaceful but said they expected clashes with police.
“We are expecting to be shot by police‚” said one of the leaders. Condoms were distributed among students‚ who urged fellow marchers to rub the lubricant over their eyes to minimise the effects of tear gas.
As the crowd lined up‚ a speaker told them: “We have a date with the state. We are here to take what is ours. We are here to take back the land. Everything under the land belongs to us. Everything under the sea belongs to us. We are here to get free decolonised … education.”
Before departing‚ there were some disagreements about the route of the march.
Students refused to be interviewed individually and referred journalists to dedicated “spokesmen”.
Students – some of whom were carrying a makeshift coffin with a picture of Blade Nzimande on top – said they would march to Parliament to demand free education from the Higher Education Minister.
As they waited‚ they symbolically lowered the coffin and put a white cross on top – as if they were laying the minister to rest.
The protesters were watched by a large contingent of police in riot gear outside parliament. Some of the students climbed onto an armoured police vehicle to get a better view of the action.
“Free education 1st land next‚” read one poster. “Black liberation‚” read another. One of the protesters‚ a woman‚ removed her shirt and danced topless‚ with an expletive written on her bare back.
– TMG Digital/The Times