Photo: @leosejake

Pretoria - A large number of protesting students have left the Union Buildings and are now on the streets of Pretoria after Wits student leaders reportedly told their students to go back to their buses.

This was in reaction to violent scenes playing out outside the Union Buildings.

The use of stun grenades is believed to have fuelled violent reaction from students.

There were students, however, who indicated they were against the violence, and that the march was intended to be peaceful.

A nyala with barbed wire was brought in, together with a water tanker. Students gained entry into the barricaded area and dragged the barbed wire away.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd, after which most of the students began to disperse.

Another nyala drove down Stanza Bopape Street while a police helicopter was hovering above.

Some of the students were kneeling down, hands in the air.

Earlier some protesting students lit fires on the lawns of the Union Buildings and turned away State Security Minister David Mahlobo.

While dark clouds of smoke enveloped the protesters, Mahlobo emerged from a high-level meeting, chaired by President Jacob Zuma inside the Union Buildings.

He strode towards the protesters on the lawns, accompanied by deputy higher education Minister Mduduzi Manana and several bodyguards.

They were forced to flee after students threw several objects at them, shouting and making hand signals.

After Mahlobo left, several stun grenades were fired by police officers on scene.

Inside the building, Zuma remained locked in crisis talks with key players in the South African education sector.

Several ministers present at the meeting included Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.

University vice-chancellors and representatives of student formations were also present.

The sound of the vocal protesters could be heard in the meeting room.

A number of students have subsequently returned to the Union Buildings and are waiting for President Zuma to address them.

Zuma is set to address students at 2.45pm.

Pretoria News and ANA

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