October 10, 2016 / 7:22 AM / 3 years ago

Police, students clash as South Africa's Wits university reopens

University of Cape Town (UCT) students sing during protests demanding free tertiary education in Cape Town, South Africa, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African police clashed with student protesters demanding free education on Monday at the University of the Witwatersand (Wits) which had reopened after demonstrations forced its closure last week.

Demonstrators hurled rocks at shield-wielding private security guards while police fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the crowd at the Johannesburg campus.

A university spokeswoman earlier said the university had reopened. In a subsequent statement, Wits said: “The majority of lectures resumed this morning but were then disrupted by large groups of protesters.”

“We urge students and staff to return to classes this week, even if disruptions occur,” it said.

Demonstrations over the cost of university education, which is prohibitive for many black students, have highlighted frustration at enduring inequalities more than two decades after the end of apartheid.

Nationwide protests erupted last week while universities were on a study recess, with students demanding all universities be shut down until the government provides free education.

The eNCA television network reported that there were scuffles between students and police at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, 400 km (240 miles) south of Johannesburg.

Reporting by Siphiwe Sibeko and Tanisha Heiberg; Writing by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Alison Williams

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