Protesting Wits students burn Miners’ Monument and try to bring it down
Johannesburg - Protesting Wits students’ plan to destroy the Miners’ Monument in Braamfontein were thwarted when police quickly swooped in and confiscated the rope they were using to pull down the statue.
The students, who have been protesting since last week over issues of funding and blocked roads with burning tyres, turned their anger to the statue, near the Johannesburg City Council. They tied a rope around then pulled it, trying to bring it down. However, the statue did not budge.
Initially a student carrying a bottle with a flammable liquid approached the statue, sprinkled the liquid around it and set it on fire. The fire did not destroy it and as they were busy pulling at it, Joburg metro police officers arrived.
After a confrontation with the protesters, where someone was pepper sprayed, the metro police confiscated the rope.
This statue was created by sculptor David McGregor to pay tribute to Johannesburg's mining origins. It shows three black miners, and was erected 1964 in Braamfontein.
The students are challenging the university’s financial aid policies, which are said to have excluded a great number of students.
On Wednesday, Mthokozisi Ntumba was shot and killed during clashes between police and protesting students. Ntumba, 35, had just left a medical centre in Braamfontein when he was caught in the crossfire and allegedly shot by the police.
Two student journalists, Nondumiso Lehutso and Aphelele Buqwane, who work for the Vow FM (Voice of Wits FM) and Wits Vuvuzela, a student newspaper, were also shot with rubber bullets while reporting on the protests.