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South African police block student march to Zuma’s office

Armoured police vehicles are parked in the distance as students from the University of Witwatersrand gather in a street of Johannesburg as they demonstrate to call for free higher education on October 20, 2016.  Weeks of protests at South African universities have targeted tuition fees -- but students say they are also about racism and inequality in a society still plagued by the legacy of apartheid. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Armoured police vehicles are parked in the distance as students from the University of Witwatersrand gather in a street of Johannesburg as they demonstrate to call for free higher education on October 20, 2016.<br />Weeks of protests at South African universities have targeted tuition fees — but students say they are also about racism and inequality in a society still plagued by the legacy of apartheid. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

South African police on Thursday fired stun grenades to disperse several hundred students who attempted to march to President Jacob Zuma’s offices in the capital Pretoria to protest against tuition fees.

The students had planned to deliver a list of demands to Zuma’s office at the Union Buildings in the latest stage of weeks of often violent demonstrations.

But police in riot gear prevented about 500 students from approaching the buildings, with some protesters trying to force their way through high fences.

The students held posters saying “Free education for all”, “South Africa is radically unequal” and “We want peace and free education”.

Stun grenades were fired after the students threw objects at the police.

The march was part of a wave of unrest at universities around the country, as students protest against fee increases that they say force poor students out of education.

Students have torched buildings in several institutions and dozens have been arrested during daily running battles on campuses in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg and elsewhere.

The violence has forced some universities to close, disrupting the completion of the academic year.

Student protests began last year, when many so-called “born frees” — who grew up after apartheid — staged huge demonstrations which forced the government to abandon planned fee hikes for 2016.

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