JOHANNESBURG, 11 March 2021 – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the shooting death of a man in the margins of student protests, calling it police “overreach”.
The 35-year-old man was shot and killed, allegedly by the police on Wednesday morning, a day before the peaceful student protests entered a fourth consecutive day, on Thursday.
“It disturbed me quite deeply because it demonstrated that whilst our people were protesting rather peacefully, there was overreach, it seems… by the police,” Ramaphosa said Wednesday.
University of Witwaterstand students have been in the streets for four days, demanding changes to registration and more student-friendly financial aid policies.
Students allege that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme excludes too many deserving students.
Officials say the scheme has run out of money, leaving many students without access to any form of financial assistance with their registration.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), a police watchdog, said Wednesday that it is investigating the death.
Speculations are that the man was caught in running battles between protesting students and the police.
The man was allegedly coming out of a medical center in Braamfontein when he was struck by rubber bullets, killing him at the scene.
A doctor at the medical center said he was alerted to the incident by his assistant and he immediately rushed out to provide first aid assistance.
“I found the man gasping and I performed CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) compression only to try and resuscitate him. Unfortunately it was not successful,” said Dr Sedibe.
A spokesperson for IPID, Ndileka Cola, was cited Thursday by news reports as saying that they assigned four officers to probe the incident as soon as they were notified by the Hillbrow Police Station.
Students are demanding free education and the ability to register, despite owing Wittswaterstand University.