Students and police clash at the Tshwane University of Technology in Soshanguve. Picture: Sakhile Ndlazi

Johannesburg - The Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) on Friday launched a full-scale forensic investigation following the death of a student during clashes that followed a disputed election of the Students Representative Council (SRC).

The student was shot dead at the TUT north campus in Soshanguve following scuffles that took place after a SRC voting dispute on Thursday night. Witnesses to the SRC fracas said members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) shot at students with live ammunition, and one was killed while another was wounded.

TUT spokeswoman Willa de Ruyter said that according to reports received, the SRC elections at the Soshanguve north and south campuses experienced problems because of a shortage of ballot papers, as well as suspicions that an official was taking ballot papers when he moved to supply another voting station. 

De Ruyter said an independent external service provider manages SRC elections at the university and the elections ran smoothly at all campuses, except for Soshanguve and Ga-Rankuwa. 

"This resulted in confrontations between a group of about 300 students and damage to property at the Soshanguve south campus. The students then moved to the north campus, where the presiding officer was assaulted. The SAPS had to intervene in an attempt to diffuse the situation on campus," de Ruyter said.

"In a shooting incident outside the campus, a student suffered a fatal wound. The shooting took place quite a distance from where the SAPS were dispersing the protesting group of students. The name of the student will be released once the family has been informed. The University will also assist the family with the student’s funeral."

De Ruyter said vice-chancellor and principal, Professor Lourens van Staden and the executive management committee have expressed shock at the death of a student.

All activities at the Soshanguve and Ga-Rankuwa campuses were suspended on Friday and for the weekend while the university management will deliberate the possibility of re-running the elections.  

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) had said that it would investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident. 

Moses Dlamini, Ipid national spokesman, said in a statement that according to the report received from the South African Police Service (SAPS), it is alleged that students held SRC elections during the day and at about 6pm police were called to the campus after the presiding officer was allegedly held hostage and assaulted by the students. 

Dlamini said the post-mortem of the dead student would be held on Friday at Garankuwa Mortuary and that the docket would be collected the same day for further investigations.

African News Agency (ANA)