The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), on Thursday 11 March 2021, said it could not enroll the cases of the students arrested during the public protests at Wits University due to insufficient evidence. 

Dissatisfied students took to the streets of Braamfontein, Johannesburg on Wednesday demanding that management still allow those with outstanding fees to register for the 2021 academic year.

During the protest, a 35-year-old bystander by the name of Mthokozisi Ntumba, was allegedly gunned down by police. Videos of students being manhandled by police officers also made their way to social media. IPID said it would institute the relevant investigations. 

SEVEN WITS STUDENTS ARRESTED 

According to NPA Regional Spokesperson-Gauteng Local Division Phindi Mjonondwane, seven students were arrested on three separate dockets. 

“One docket had five suspects charged with public violence whilst two individuals were charged separately, one for public violence and the other for malicious injury to property (MITP),” she said. 

“The docket of the individual charged with MITP was then referred back to the police for further investigation. Once those investigations are concluded, the docket will be brought back to the NPA and it is only then that the NPA can make a decision on whether to prosecute or not,” she added. 

According to the Citizen, the five suspects from the first docket were released and the other two were released on R1 000 bail each.

RAMAPHOSA SAYS THE PROTEST DID NOT WARRANT THE REACTION FROM POLICE 

Ramaphosa, on Thursday, while addressing the death of Ntumba at the Wits protest said there was indeed an overreach by police. 

“Mthokozisi Ntumba was an innocent bystander and indeed, I would say even the students. Much as they were protesting, the way I saw it on television, did not warrant the type of resistance and push from our police because it demonstrated whilst our people were protesting rather peacefully, there was an overreach, it seems, by the police.”

“As a government, much as we are facing enormous challenges and difficulties, the issue of education is important and is a priority of this government. We will not abandon our students. We will fund their education because it is their right,” he added. 

While Ramaphosa and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande both said that priority should be given to education, it did come too late as an innocent life had already been lost. 

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Presh JM Reporter

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