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'#FeesMustFall protests were hijacked'

The State Security Ministry claims that a third force was behind the nationwide demonstrations.

As tear gas fills the air at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, students put their hands in the air as a sign of surrender to police who they clashed with during protests on 23 October 2015 over proposed university fee increases. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - State Security Minister David Mahlobo says political elements and non-students hijacked the recent tuition fee protests.

There have been claims that a third force was behind the nationwide demonstrations which saw universities around the country being shut down.

Mahlobo says troublemakers tried to opportunistically hijack last month's chaotic protests at the Union Buildings.

"People who were not students came in and caused disruptions. They even burned toilets. Then there are also elements of other opportunists who brought in issues of politics."

WATCH: #FeesMustFall: Aerial view of Union Building chaos

Meanwhile, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says the student protests that swept the country were largely disciplined and well-controlled.

Answering questions in the National Assembly yesterday, Ramaphosa told Ministers of Parliament (MPs) South Africans should thank the students for placing the issue of higher education funding on the national agenda.

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa questioned him on whether the issue would have been on government's radar, if students had not raised it.

"You only wait for something to happen, then you react. I put it to you that the zero percent increment that you proposed was a knee-jerk reaction in the absence of solutions."

WATCH: The day fees 'fell'

Ramaphosa has denied the president's announcement of a freeze on tuition fee increases was a knee-jerk response to the student uprising.

"The issue of the funding of universities is a matter that government has been dealing with over time, and in dealing with it, clearly we were a victim of our own success."

FEES SHORTFALL

The zero fees increase for universities next year means a shortfall of R2,33 billion according to the Department of Higher Education and Training.

A joint meeting of Parliament's Appropriation and Higher Education Committees was told the government would find R1,9 billion while universities would fund the remaining amount of more than R390 million.

Protests over rising university began at Wits on 14 October and rapidly spread to campuses across the country.

Demonstrators demanded the attention of government by marching on Parliament and the Union Buildings at the height of the protests.

LISTEN: Hunt on for 2016 fee shortfall

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