“APOLOGY: My earlier tweet about the Wits protest meant to indicate that the person killed today was NOT a student but this does not in any way diminish the fact and tragedy of a loss of life,” he said on Twitter.
“I did not express myself clearly and for that I apologize. My deepest condolences”
Protesting students took to the streets of Braamfontein, Johannesburg on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, to express their outrage following Wits’ decision to exclude their indebted counterparts from registering.
Images and video on social media show police using rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the students, who have vowed to continue with their demonstrations.
Man killed during Wits student protests
When the story of the death first broke, there was still speculation as to whether the man was a Wits University student or a mere bypasser. Tito Mboweni took to the social media app to share that it was indeed just a man who was minding his own business when he was shot, allegedly by police officers.
“My information is that there Was no student who was killed! Fake news circulating. No deserving student will be left out. Minister Ndzimande will deal with matter tomorrow,” Mboweni tweeted. The post has since been removed from the minister’s timeline.
It would later emerge that the victim was a 35 year-old man who had been leaving the clinic when police fired at him. Some eyewitnesses claim he was shot at close range. The minister’s tweet was met with backlash, with many pointing fingers at his government and also accusing him of being insensitive. His apology did little to stop people from slamming him though, including former DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
For many, this is a stark reminder of the 2016 Fees Must Fall protests which rocked most tertiary institutions across the country. The unrest at Wits certainly stood at the time, due to the extent of violence which broke out between police officers and protesting students. The demonstrations take place on the same day the SRC is scheduled to hold a meeting with Wits management.