CAPE TOWN — The South African government today called for calm as violence re-erupted in some institutions of higher learning over possible fee rises.

The government said it has noted with concern media reports on the resurgence of violent protests in some institutions of higher learning.

Students are advised not to participate in activities that may place them in conflict with the law as they protest against fee increase at universities, said Donald Liphoko, spokesperson for the Department of Higher Education and Training(DHET).

“As government, we would like to assure South Africans that the matter of student fees is receiving our full attention. We are working together with all parties concerned to find a lasting solution,” said Liphoko.

“Destruction of property and violence during this process cannot be tolerated. Government calls on students to allow the ongoing consultation to be concluded peacefully. We call on student leadership to join the call for the protection of valuable university infrastructure,” he added.

President Jacob Zuma has instructed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan as well as Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande to find money for another zero-percent fee increase for 2017.

Last month, the National Treasury told the Fees Commission of Inquiry, looking into the feasibility of free tertiary education, that a zero-percent fee increment for 2017 was not budgeted for.

The Council on Higher Education has proposed that institutions increase their fees by six percent for the 2017 academic year.

Students have threatened to disrupt institutions of higher learning if their demand for zero fee increase is not met.

South African universities were hit by widespread protests over fee increases last year. According to the DHET, the unrest cost more than R145 million in damage.

– Xinhua

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