The protests by Wits University students have led to the death of one person, who was shot dead allegedly by a member of the South African Police Service (SAPS) on Wednesday, 10 March 2021.
Scenes from the unrest descended into chaos as protesting students faced-off with law enforcement on the streets of Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Wits University’s Student Representative Council (SRC) is leading the demonstrations. They are outraged by the institution’s exclusion of some indebted students.
At this point, the circumstances remain unclear, however it is believed that the man was not even taking part in the protests and merely a bystander.
Wits protests: Police confirm shooting of alleged bystander
The SAPS’ Kay Makhubele has confirmed to news channel Newzroom Afrika that the man was indeed shot by one of their own. He said that an investigation is underway to determine the exact circumstances surrounding the incident.
Wits SRC’s Bonga Makhanya also spoke to the broadcaster and said police were shooting randomly, including people who were not partaking in the student protests.
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’ SRC has accused the institution of failing to actively respond to their demands.
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.
SRC president Mpendulo Mfeka has said they are also aggrieved by the fact that the fees for 2021 were increased despite the fact the students were not on campus for the majority of 2020.