The death of Mthokozisi Ntumba during Wits University’s student protests has shocked South Africans, without a doubt. The 35 year-old man was shot dead allegedly by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS), on Wednesday, 10 March 2021.
Protesting students filled the streets of Braamfontein in Johannesburg, demanding that Wits’ management allow some of their indebted counterparts to register for the 2021 academic year. The crowd was already outraged, but it was the fatal shooting of the man which led to matters really getting out of hand. Added onto that was the fact that he was a mere bystander who was leaving the clinic when he was allegedly shot at point black.
Mthokozisi Ntumba – a tragic casualty from the Wits protests
South Africans who reacted angrily to the man’s death and many were curious as to his identity. It has now been learnt that Mthokozisi Ntumba was a happily married family man who had three children. He was also an employee with the Human Settlements Department and had just completed his Master’s degree.
Police Minister Bheki Cele visited Ntumba’s now widow at his home in Kempton Park, accompanied by Gauteng Police Commissioner Elias Mawela and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
IPID has since initiated a probe into Ntumba’s death and said it had not yet determined how he died.
“During the preliminary investigation the Directorate has managed to collect numerous witness statements, to confiscate firearms and the same will be taken for ballistic analysis, post mortem to determine actual cause of death will be conducted later this week, family liaison has started and the investigation continues,” it said.
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.
Wits is considered one of the continent’s top-tier learning institutions, offering top quality education – with that comes the hefty fees. An undergraduate qualification at the university can cost anywhere between R42 000 and R100 000 a year. That’s excluding other necessities like stationery.