JOHANNESBURG ― Tear gas and water cannon were fired as hundreds of students protested at a top South African university Monday amid a bitter national dispute with university managers and the government over demonstrators’ demands for free education.
The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, or Wits, had said it was re-opening Monday after being shut because of unrest over university fees that has affected several campuses across the country.
Despite a heavy police presence in some parts of the Wits main campus, protesters entered auditoriums and other school facilities in an effort to shut down the academic program.
Students threw stones at private campus security guards, and police detonated stun grenades.
Armored police vehicles occupied space in front of the Great Hall, where the demonstration was taking place. Water cannon and tear gas were fired at protesters.
Some libraries and a large science laboratory were empty, indicating that classes were at least partly disrupted.