Ramaphosa ’disturbed’ by death of Mthokozisi Ntumba, Magashule marches with Wits students

Mthokozisi Ntumba, who was shot and killed, allegedly by police, during a Wits University protest. Picture: Supplied.

Mthokozisi Ntumba, who was shot and killed, allegedly by police, during a Wits University protest. Picture: Supplied.

Published Mar 11, 2021


Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the death of Mthokozisi Ntumba, who was shot and killed during the Wits University protests on Wednesday, as deeply disturbing.

Ramaphosa was speaking on Thursday at the National House of Traditional Leaders. He said Ntumba’s killing had to be thoroughly investigated.

"The events that took place near Wits University yesterday are deeply disturbing.

"As a country, we are today mourning the tragic death of Mr Mthokozisi Ntumba during the course of the protests. We extend our sympathies to his family and his friends.

“The circumstances that led to Mr Ntumba’s death must be thoroughly investigated and the law must take its course,” he said.

Ntumba, 35, was shot and killed on Wednesday after leaving a medical centre in Braamfontein.Police had been firing rubber bullets to disperse protesting Wits students.He was allegedly shot several times. Efforts to resuscitate him failed and he died at the scene.

Ramaphosa said everyone had the right to protest peacefully and said government had a responsibility to ensure those rights were protected.

“As a government we have made significant progress in ensuring that young people from poor households – in urban and rural areas – have access to higher education.

“We are keenly aware of the challenges facing students across the country and are hard at work to find sustainable solutions.

“Through engagement and dialogue, I am certain that we will be able to take forward the work that has already been done to open the doors of learning to all,” he said.

Earlier, Police Minister Bheki Cele expressed his condolences to Ntumba’s family and said the killing was indefensible.

"I can’t explain it. Somebody... just went crazy," Cele said.

Acting Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said on Thursday that the Cabinet had urged the police not to use live ammunition during public protects.

Speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing, Ntshavheni said the Cabinet was saddened by Ntumba's death.

“The government has expressed its condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr Ntumba, who was also an employee of the Department of Human Settlements,” Ntshavheni said.

She said the Independent Police Investigative Unit was already conducting an investigation to determine the circumstances that led to Ntumba’s death.

“The Cabinet urges the police to exercise restraint while maintaining public order during protects and never to use live ammunition.

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande also joined in expressing condolences to Ntumba’s family and friends

“I have directed the Wits council and management and relevant law enforcement agencies to provide us with an explanation how this tragedy happened,” Nzimande said.

Meanwhile, Ipid spokesperson Ndileka Cola said the investigation team that had been assigned was working around the clock to gather evidence.

“During the preliminary investigation the directorate has managed to collect numerous witness statements, to confiscate firearms and the same will be taken for ballistic analysis, post mortem to determine actual cause of death will be conducted later this week, family liaison has started and the investigation continues,” she said

On Thursday, Wits University students marched to the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters in the Johannesburg CBD, where they handed a memorandum to secretary-general Ace Magashule.

Magashule accepted the memorandum and marched with the students to the Constitutional Court, where they were expected to deliver another memorandum to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

But the walk with Magashule has not been well received on social media, with some opposition leaders and people criticising students for marching with Magashule, who faces corruption charges in the Bloemfontein High Court.

— Naledi Chirwa (@NalediChirwa) March 11, 2021
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Political Bureau/IOL