Wits University mandatory vaccines

The Great Hall of Wits on East Campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Samuel Molepo

Wits University ‘saddened’ by death in student protests

A man was shot allegedly by a police officer during Wits University’s student protests, calling for their indebted counterparts to be allowed to register

Wits University mandatory vaccines

The Great Hall of Wits on East Campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Samuel Molepo

The University of Witwatersrand has expressed grief over the killing of a man, allegedly by a member of the South African Police Service (SAPS) on Wednesday, 10 March 2021. Protesting students took to the streets of Braamfontein, Johannesburg and are outraged by 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.

“Wits University is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of a 35-year-old man in the Braamfontein CBD outside of the institution this morning. The University extends its condolences to the family of the deceased,” the institution said.

“We condemn any form of violence and call on all persons to keep calm during this very difficult time”

Several people arrested during Wits protests

Wits further revealed that two of its student reporters were injured during the unrest. While it remains unclear at this stage, it is believed that three demonstrators were arrested and taken to the Hillbrow Police Station.

The university has said that it would continue seeking more information on the matter.

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.

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.

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.