Protesters breach parts of Union Buildings fence

Karabo Ngoepe, Genevieve Quintal and Ahmed Areff

Pretoria - Protesting students smashed open parts of the gate at the south lawns of the Union Buildings on Friday, as President Jacob Zuma was meeting student leaders and management of universities.

They have not crossed over it yet.

The protesters threw rocks over the fence at police manning the length of the other side of the gate.

A space was opened at the bottom of one section of the fence. One protester went down on his knees and jumped on to the other side and jumped back several times.

Black smoke billowed from a section of the lawns, while some students retreated.

Some protest leaders tried to hold the other protesters back as they kicked and smashed the fence with rocks.

A government official told the protesters to remain calm and be patient.

"The president is going to address you. Your student representatives are presenting your grievances to the president.

"The president is going to come and address you on the way forward... please be patient, we are trying to find a solution. Give us a bit of time," he told the crowd.

The demonstrations were sparked last week by Wits University students, who blockaded the entrance to the Johannesburg university's campus after the institution indicated it would raise fees by 10.5% for 2016.

Demonstrations later spread to Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University, the University of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the University of Pretoria, the University of the Free State, the University of Limpopo, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Tshwane University of Technology, including its campus in Mbombela, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the University of the Western Cape, Walter Sisulu University, the University of Johannesburg and the University of Fort Hare.