NYAKALLO TEFU| Education reporter
POLITICAL parties have strongly condemned the police shooting and killing of an innocent person during the Wits University protest over financial exclusion on Wednesday.
This comes after police fired rubber bullets to disperse a group of protesters outside the Wits university campus in Johannesburg.
The students are demanding that those who owe the university up to R150 000 in fees still be allowed to register for the new academic year.
The South African Communist Party (SACP) strongly condemns the killing of a member of the public at the Wits university campus.
The SACP also called for an urgent investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
“We convey our heartfelt message of condolences to the family of the deceased,” the party’s spokesperson, Dr Alex Mashilo, said in a statement.
Mashilo lambasted Finance Minister Tito Mboweni for introducing austerity measures during his budget speech last month.
“Austerity is the key public finance management problem depriving students from poor and working-class families that cannot afford student fees of access,” said Mashilo.
“For instance, the budget delivered last month to Parliament by the Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni cut allocations to higher education institutions by 1.712 billion rand in 2021/2022, 2.250 billion rand in 2022/2023, and approximately 4.1 billion rand in 2023/2024. In total, the cuts (‘fiscal consolidation’) to funding support affecting higher education institutions amount to 8.043 billion rand in the medium-term expenditure framework (2021/2022 to 2023/2024).”
Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen also condemned police brutality during the student protest.
“The loss of innocent lives at the hands of law enforcement officials must not become our new normal. We are not a military state, agencies like the SAPS must be professionalised to avoid the unnecessary loss of lives. The IPID must act swiftly on the #WitsProtest incident,” said Steenhuisen.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema also condemned the police killing of the bystander, saying South African Police Service were presided over by the ANC government, which has left the apartheid Policing system intact and never tempered with.
“The police we have today are blood thirsty, the same way apartheid police were,” said Malema.
“The EFF is sending condolences to the family of the deceased civilian reportedly killed by the SAPS at Wits protest.”
He said the EFF will get justice for the family, adding that the police officer responsible must be held accountable.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said it condemned the use of brute force by the SAPS members against protesting students from the University of Wits.
“As NEHAWU, we find it abhorrent that in this day of our democracy we still have police that treat peaceful marchers like it is still the dark days of apartheid,” said Nehawu in a statement.
“The use of brutal force more especially against unarmed and harmless children should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
The education and health workers union said it will write to the Minister of Police Bheki Cele to demand answers.
“Many sectors of our society have been calling for the training of police officers to receive intensive training on crowd control,’ said Nehawu.
“We will demand to know from the Minister if such training did indeed take place and what is the impact thereof. We call on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to move with speed in finding the police responsible for the loss of life and he must face punitive measures.”
- Inside Politics