Cape Town - Deputy Minister for Higher Education, Buti Manamela, has sent condolences to the family of the man who was shot dead during a protest outside Wits University on Wednesday morning.
Speaking at a meeting of the education portfolio committee, Manamela said they had received the news of a person who was shot dead when police were trying to disperse students.
“We extend our condolences. This is quite unfortunate and obviously unnecessary,” he said.
“We do not encourage and condone when during protests there is loss of lives.”
Manamela said they were in contact with the university and were trying to get hold of student leadership so issues around financial exclusions of students were resolved as speedily as possible.
“Most of the issues we browsed through, the leadership of both the university and students can and should be able to sit around the table. We will try our best to give the institution the support for them to resolve these issues.
“I want to indicate that we remain committed to support all institutions, both at TVET and universities, to conclude registration as speedily and smoothly as possible,” Manamela said.
He also said the department was looking at convening a meeting of all stakeholders, including vice-chancellors and leaders of student representative councils, to try to thrash out what could be “national issues”.
Philly Mapulane, committee chairperson for the higher and education portfolio committee, said the issue of the person who was killed needed to be followed up.
“We can’t afford to lose lives as a result of protests. We can’t afford that, and our condolences to the family of the person who departed,” Mapulane said.
“It should not happen when there are protests that they result in loss of lives. It must never happen.”
Mapulane said South Africa was a democratic society, where there was freedom of expression, freedom to protest and express grievances though legitimate protests that were peaceful.
“Really, it is sad that there is loss of life. That fundamental right to protest is undermined and we hope that the department will attend to that,” he said.
Meanwhile, police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, said it had dispatched four investigators to investigate the man’s death.