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.
Ace Magashule is in court on allegations of fraud and corruption yet he leads university students in a demonstration for free education. This after he’s run down and collapsed an entire province. This is how thieves keep winning in South Africa. https://t.co/O21jH92uL2— Palesa Morudu (@palesa_morudu) March 11, 2021
SASCO is truly the child of ANC. A few days ago they involved themselves in a fight between Fikile Mbalula and Carl Niehaus and even released a statement to this effect, and TODAY Carl Niehaus and Ace Magashule are at the protest at Wits ADDRESSING students. Guys. Yifilim. Movie.— Naledi Chirwa (@NalediChirwa) March 11, 2021
Ace Magashule thinks we don’t see what he’s doing— Princess 🦁🐝 (@Max_Mofo) March 11, 2021
SASCO march with Ace Magashule to ConCourt is an attempt to whitewash the fact that his ANC government Police shot students who are protesting peacefully for access to education— Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) March 11, 2021
It’s like expecting Marikana workers to march with Ramaphosa to demand justice on Marikana Massacre
I am worried about the quality of students we have in our Universities. The sound students would have not marched with Ace Magashule but would have swung him in the air and demonstration that they cannot stand the cost of corruption and corrupt politicians.— African Renaissance🦅🇿🇦🦁 (@MadiBoity) March 11, 2021
Ace magashule marching against himself. Yifilm pic.twitter.com/2dKXxZ17oa— Lebogang 👥major2® (@lebogang_mzansi) March 11, 2021
Ace Magashule is a strategist. He is showing solidarity with the students by marching against his ANC government. pic.twitter.com/9gGVNnZS3D— The Author (@TiyiBevhula) March 11, 2021