Zuma condemns violent protests at Fort Hare University

Zuma says vandalism of property at institutions amounts to the destruction of the country's future.

President Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at the University of Fort Hare. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

FORT HARE - President Jacob Zuma has condemned the violence and destruction associated with student protests in recent weeks.

Today, Zuma delivered the keynote address at Fort Hare University's centenary celebrations amid disruptive protests at the Alice campus.

At least 15 protesters have been arrested for malicious damage to property and other charges following running battles with police since Wednesday.

The president paid homage to several former pan African leaders who were among the first graduates of the university.

WATCH: Zuma and Mugabe arrive at Fort Hare.

He stressed current students should work to emulate the character of "the great minds" including Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, ZK Matthews and Oliver Tambo.

The president also condemned the destruction and looting during protests in the university campus earlier this week.

"Students must reflect and think deeply about whose interest they are serving when they go all out to destroy their future."

Zuma says the actions of some students are ruining the future.

"Is that our aim as we burn schools and property? I doubt it. If we do so, history will judge those who burn property very harshly."

Outside the packed sport complex student protesters continued to demonstrate against the university's handling of their financial grievances.

MUGABE: FORT HARE UNIVERSITY SHAPED POLITICAL CONSCIOUSNESS

At the same time, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says the University of Fort Hare, a higher education institution for black Africans, shaped the political consciousness of some of the continent's leaders.

The 92-year-old Fort Hare alumni spoke about how the university was back then considered one of the inferior institution in the country.

LISTEN: Centenary celebrations start at Fort Hare.

Mugabe says black Africans were also considered too unintelligent for abstract degrees.

"We are people who are used to looking after cattle, goats and sheep. We sink in concrete terms not in abstract terms."

He said gender equality should become a priority in African homes and thanked South Africa's government for facilitating exchanges for Zimbabwean students.