Man killed, five students arrested after Wits protests

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Mar 10, 2021

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Johannesburg - A man was killed and five students arrested on Wednesday as police clashed with Wits University students in the streets of Johannesburg.

Hundreds of students had taken to the streets of Joburg to protest against being financially excluded. They also called for free education.

During the protests, police fired a rubber bullet and fatally wounded a 35-year-old man who had reportedly been in the Braamfontein area to see a medical doctor.

Footage of the incident was doing the rounds on social media on Wednesday.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) dispatched four investigating officers after the news of the man’s death was reported to them on Wednesday.

Ipid spokesperson Ndileka Cola said: “The directorate has dispatched four investigation officers to probe the allegations, the team will also cordon the crime scene and conduct the investigation including locating the person with the video footage, and identifying eye witnesses.”

Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele said the police continued to monitor the situation in the area.

“About five suspects were arrested and charged with public violence but police continue to monitor the situation,” said Makhubele.

Earlier, IOL reported that two student journalists, who were reporting on the protests on Wednesday, were among those wounded by police’s rubber bullets.

One of the wounded student journalists, Nondu Lehutso, took to Twitter to relay the incident. She said she had been transferred to the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital as the rubber bullet wound was deep.

Later, she relayed how the police officer shot her despite the cop telling her to run.

“I still can’t believe what has happened to me today. The officer who shot me screamed ‘baleka, run!’. I ran and he still shot at me, twice.

“I’m here asking myself, what would have been enough, apart from holding my hands up with nothing else, that would have stopped him?” she said.

Wits University spokesperson Shirona Patel said the university community was “deeply saddened” by the death of the 35-year-old man.

She said the university had made available health and counselling services to students and members of the community who required assistance.

“We note with deep concern the escalation of the situation which is regrettable, and we call on all persons to remain calm during this difficult time. We remain committed to seeking creative, peaceful solutions to any outstanding issues in the higher education sector,” said Patel.


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