AMNESTY International South Africa has called for the banning of rubber bullets. This comes after 35-year-old Mthokozisi Ntumba died during Wednesday’s Wits protest.
Police are alleged to have shot the victim with rubber bullets meant for protesting students.
Previously, Amnesty International said in its report about the FeesMustFall protests that while some of the protesters were not peaceful, the police at times responded with excessive use of force, including firing rubber bullets at close range at students and supporters when force was neither necessary nor proportionate.
“In Johannesburg a student leader who had tried to speak to the police, but whom they turned away and who then turned to walk back to join her colleagues, was shot in the back 13 times with rubber bullets, and a student who tried to help her was also hit by rubber bullets,” said Amnesty International SA.
“In Durban another student was shot in the leg by a rubber bullet after she filmed a police officer assaulting a student.”
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the events that took place at a student protest outside Wits University are deeply disturbing.
He has condemned the killing of Ntumba during the protest.
“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. All people in this country have a right to peaceful protest, and it is the responsibility of this government to ensure that this right is protected,” said Ramaphosa during the debate in the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament, Cape Town.
“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.”
Higher Education Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, said his department has requested an explanation regarding the death of Ntumba.
- Inside Education