South Africa’s Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande believes the demands of students have been hijacked by a third force.

Nzimande says poor students are plundering universities on behalf of the rich who know that they will send their children abroad as soon as the higher education system collapses.

He says ongoing protests are all about scoring political points.

“There is a political war here – its no longer a legitimate fight started by students for free education. By the way the free education is government policy, however, there is a third force at play here,” says Nzimande.

He says if the protests go on, the children who will suffer more are the poor because the rich will take their children to overseas universities.

“Those who say they are burning properties because they are fighting for the poor are lying, in fact they are fighting on behalf of the rich who will be able to further their education elsewhere,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Wits University says it has agreed to postpone the academic programme further to Monday next week, following negotiations with various student groups linked to the Fees Must Fall campaign.

Management says the common objective is to resume academic activities in full on Monday, Oct 10.

Earlier, the university said despite Tuesdays disruptions, the academic programme would resume on Wednesday because of the large number of staff members and students who wanted to return.

Management now says they have made this concession because they do not want Tuesday’s scenes to be repeated.

Protesting students, demanding free education, clashed with police on Wits’s East campus in Braamfontein, Johannesburg on Tuesday.

During Tuesday’s clashes at Wits, police fired rubber bullets to disperse protesting students. Two police officers, a lecturer and several students were injured and five students were arrested.

Acting National Police Commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane, briefing the media, said, “Our ultimate goal is the de-escalation of violence while upholding the rights. The SAPS will deploy to any area in the country where the law is being broken and stability threatened and this includes universities.”

“We need no one’s permission where crime is committed. We will not hesitate to take action with minimum force to those breaking the law and instigating others to violence,” he adds.

Phahlane also rejected claims that the police service is a bloodthirsty organisation, seeking another Marikana with the student protests.

“The naysayer’s are undoubtedly disappointed that the SAPS has not fired live ammunition and our members are strictly prohibited from doing so. We do know that there is provocation on the police but we will not be drawn to a point where we are managing this situation with emotions. We will exercise maximum restrain at all times and we call upon everyone to behave responsibly.

Source: Nam News Network