Location: Union Buildings, Pretoria, South Africa
We went expecting drama, and we got it. On the back of the growing #FeesMustFall campaign, thousands of University students protested on the banks of the Union Buildings in an effort to reduce fee increases which were set to rise as much as 10%.
As the bangs of of stun grenades met the cheers of students taunting police, Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, met with University officials and student leaders to negotiate terms. It was a case of too little too late as an isolated group of 50 students ran riot, fueled by frustration, setting toilets, cars and tyres alight. The group tore down the fence blockading the national landmark and pelted police with wrenches, rocks and pretty much anything they could find.
By the time tear gas canisters were launched into the air, the president was to announce that an settlement of a 0% fee increase for 2016 was reached. The crowd was yet to be informed.
The scene was bizarre. Among all this violence, the atmosphere beyond was light hearted and relaxed. I caught a number of students, standing next to the inferno, with people launching projectiles over the fence, posing for selfies.
It was unfortunate that the thousands of other students, who were for the most part peacefully attending the protest, were caught in the peppery gas. In my view, the crowd was dispersed in the nick of time: I had seen three students preparing petrol bombs from an the abandoned generator left behind by the TV. Things could have gotten far worse.