#FeesMustFall: Cops clear parliamentary precinct

Earlier police and students clashed in chaotic scenes.

Police block UCT #FeesMustFall protesters outside of Parliament after clashes between officers and protesters broke out. Picture: Anthony Molyneaux/EWN.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - Police have managed to drive hundreds of protesting students out of the CBD following chaotic clashes with officers outside Parliament as part of the now national Fees Must Fall campaign.

Earlier, hundreds of students protested outside the building where finance minister Nhlanhla Nene addressed a joint sitting. They surged towards the gates shortly before 3:00pm police fired several stun grenades into the crowd.

WATCH: Police and protesters clash

At the same time, hundreds of students gathered across the country as part of the Fees Must Fall movement.

The African National Congress (ANC) has raised concerns about the way in which police handled the student protests.

Spokesperson Zizi Kodwa says the situation could have been handled better. "Generally, students have been peaceful in their demonstrations, picketing and protests. The use of police does incite and provoke peaceful protesters. I don't think that the students have misbehaved in a manner that would want the heavy hand of the police."

WATCH: tense stand-off between police, protesting Cape Town students. #FeesMustFall SS pic.twitter.com/gC6ckQhL6L

#FeesMustFall law enforcement pushing student all along Roeland street. Group cheers, take a bow towards police. NM pic.twitter.com/I1S4GEuOJw

The SAPS says its deployed public order officers around the country to monitor the country's universities.

The police's Vish Naidoo says they are drawing up a plan to effectively deal with the current unrest.

"We mobilised both our provincial and national our operational centres to monitor the situation and of course to deploy particularly the public order police unit members at the protest actions because they are trained and equipped to deal with protest actions of this nature."

Parliament's presiding officers have responded to the drama both inside and outside of the legislature by holding an urgent briefing this evening.

NCOP chairwoman, Thandi Modise, said police did not use teargas or rubber bullets during clashes with protesting students. She said officers used stun grenades to disperse protesters who had forced their way into the parliamentary precinct.

"You also asked us whether we have the figures of how many students have been arrested and how many have been injured. We are not sure how many have been arrested. A figure of seven has been mentioned, but we want to be given a chance to meet up with police to find out exactly what has happened. As I say, we're not expecting children, the young people, to come and be injured on our doorstep."

WATCH: Drama at Parliament as protesters clash with police

Meanwhile, political parties have reacted sharply to the dramatic scenes that unfolded inside and outside Parliament this afternoon.

Public Order Police and students clashed in the parliamentary precinct earlier as the #FeesMustFall campaigners demanded to be heard. XK

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for decisive leadership and an urgent response from President Jacob Zuma.

The party says Nene failed to address the funding crisis in his budget, offering no relief for students.

Party leader Mmusi Maimane said, "That is what today must be remembered as, it must be a day where we tabled the budget that did not speak to South Africans who are facing difficult days. Instead, we had two leaders who sat inside, and failed to go and address the students outside."

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu warned the ANC the protests would turn violent if the demands fell on deaf ears.

"I can tell you lives are going to be lost in South Africa. The police are going to kill students and that is what they want for them to make an intervention, like it happened in Marikana. Workers were demanding salaries there."


In the wake of this afternoon's clashes a group of concerned parents and students have now approached the Western Cape High Court to interdict the police.

Parent Brian Ashely explains, "Several students were injured and parents are bringing an application against the police to restrain them in undertaking illegal violent activities against peaceful protesting students."

He says a number of students were seriously injured.

"Students were hit in the face, hands broken and hit by stun grenades in indiscriminate attacks by police when they were not facing any threat from peaceful students."

Meanwhile, political analysts say this protest shows that students have lost faith in political processes to solve their problems.

The director of the Centre for Politics and Research's Prince Mashele says what happened at Parliament today shows people don't trust formal political institutions.

"There is a deep disconnect between the rulers of our country and what is happening outside Parliament, there were scenes of chaos but they proceeded like nothing happened."