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Cops fire stun grenades near Rhodes University amid protests

Students at an FET college near Rhodes have been protesting for five weeks now, over NSFAS funding.

FILE: Police say grenades were only fired when property was being damaged. Picture: Masa Kekana/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Grahamstown police have used three stun grenades to disperse protesting students near Rhodes University.

The students, from Eastcape Midlands College near Rhodes, have been protesting for five weeks now, over National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding.

The police's colonel Monray Nel says the grenades were only fired when property was being damaged.

"This protest action started last night, and 11 hours later we threw stun grenades. They tried to force open the gates and we tried to clear the students away."

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has once again raised concerns about the recent spate of protests at universities around the country in the wake of student demonstrations at Wits University, Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Students are also protesting against increases in fees for the 2016 academic year and as a result most lectures have been suspended.

Nzimande says he will be meeting with all university stakeholders on Tuesday to discuss fee increases.

The minister says there needs to be a common framework and approach when it comes to universities implementing and proposing fee hikes.

He says while everyone has the right to protest, students must respect the rights and dignity of others.

DETERMINING FEE INCREASES

Nzimande has called on management and council members at all universities to exercise greater caution and sensitivity in the process of determining fee increases.

He says universities need to have a much more transparent process when determining fee increases.

"Our summit, amongst other things, emphasised the necessity for on-going dialog in our institutions."

Nzimande says students and staff should have honest discussions in order to avoid a repeat of the scenes that are unfolding at universities.

"The management of universities must open up legitimate channels for discussion and dialog for these matters, and not allow matters to deteriorate."

CONFUSION AT WITS

There seems to be confusion about where the council meeting was supposed to take place at the Wits University with initial statements indicating it would happen outside the Great Hall at midday.

#FeesMustFall #Wits Students disappointed that council members haven't showed up. GN pic.twitter.com/rRFWeZzrfa

Students then stormed into the building, past security and broke a glass door.

They've now gathered at Senate House, but officials say they will not meet with students there and have requested that the building be cleared.

#Wits Students still waiting. GN pic.twitter.com/OnbbtGW0uw

SRC president Shaeera Kalla says this was the place where they'd agreed to meet.

"What we find most appalling and disgusting is that thousands of students came here to discuss and have a proper engagement and yet the council has not showed up".

While the council says it won't address students today, those gathered there are refusing to budge.

SCENES OF CHAOS AT UCT

Dozens of protesting UCT students have refused to let three university staff members leave before their demands have been addressed.

Chaos broke out when Vice Chancellor Francis Petersen addressed the media.

Furious students, brandishing placards reading "Fees Must Fall" interrupted the briefing, demanding to be addressed before the media.

#FeesMustFall some placards seemingly directed at Higher Education Minister: "Blunt Blade not sharp Enough". SS pic.twitter.com/xlLX5mYd85

#FeesMustFall UCT management has locked dozens of students out of venue where meeting was supposed to take place. SS pic.twitter.com/xp1evkvZJp

WATCH: #FeesMustFall more student protesters arrive at #UCT Bremner Building. The building has been locked. SS pic.twitter.com/lzHaTqecJS

Peterson and two other members of university management were encircled by dozens of disgruntled students.

"Firstly he can't account for these policemen that he called on students. Secondly this is what they always do; they want to address the media before they address the students. They have nothing to say to media unless they speak to the students," one student said.

WATCH: #FeesMustFall student leaders blast some of their demands in three of #UCT leaders' faces. SS pic.twitter.com/EQSCiUdNhc

Demonstrators have allowed the vice chancellor to make a call, but have warned he'll not be allowed to leave the premises without their consent.

WATCH: #FeesMustFall: UCT students protest