The warzone scenes at the University of the Witwatersrand are almost a flashback to the past, when students protested against the barbarities millions of blacks were forced to endure under the fist of a white minority government, heir of a generation of European settlers.
Those were the ’80s, the days of apartheid. The student movement was the leader of anti-government riots at the University of the Witwatersrand, widely known as Wits. In 1986, it fought against the apartheid regime; these days, the students fight against the government of Jacob Zuma and the liberation movement of the African National Congress (ANC).
It was late May 1986 when police forces, armed with whips and tear gas, arrested more than 50 people in protests organized in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Back then, Wits was the scene of one of the worst days of political violence ever seen in one of the predominantly white colleges of the country. In the meantime in Cape Town, students were demonstrating against the Republic Day holiday, the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Republic of South Africa after leaving the British Commonwealth.
The final count of the protests Tuesday was the arrest of 31 students, on charges of blocking the university entrance and violent clashes with the police and the university’s security forces. After the attacks with stones and stun grenades, classrooms were destroyed, windows were shattered, and stones were scattered on the steps that lead to the Great Hall of Wits.