Student shot in the leg during fees clashes in Braamfontein, SRC says

'We're continuing the rest of the week, until our demands are met. The week might not be enough — we might need a month': Wits SRC president

15 March 2021 - 17:54 By Iavan Pijoos and Belinda Pheto
The police used water cannons to disperse protesting Wits University students on Monday.
The police used water cannons to disperse protesting Wits University students on Monday.
Image: Alaister Russell

A Wits student was shot in the leg during protests on Monday, the university's SRC president Mpendulo Mfeka told TimesLIVE.

The student's condition was not immediately known.

There were also reports that several students were arrested after officers dispersed a group of protesters along the M1 near Braamfontein. According to reports on social media, students were making their way to the Hillbrow police station after the arrests.

Police spokesperson Brig Vish Naidoo, however, said there were no shootings on Monday, but confirmed that students had been dispersed.

“The SA Police Service has taken note of a video and reports depicting that a female was 'shot' during protests in Braamfontein today. The SAPS can report that none of its members deployed in Braamfontien had fired any shots during the said protests. However, in an effort to disperse volatile crowds, only a smoke grenade was used in one incident and water cannons in others,” he said.

Naidoo added that the matter had not been officially reported to the SAPS, “making it difficult to ascertain the nature of the student's injuries as well as the circumstances under which the injuries were sustained”.

“Police are looking forward to interviewing the student as well as obtaining the medical report regarding this matter,” said Naidoo.

This story will be updated when more information becomes available.

Earlier on Monday, Mfeka told TimesLIVE that it could take “a month” of student protests before demands are ultimately met.

Speaking in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, where students were protesting on Monday, Mfeka said the students would protest for as long as it took for President Cyril Ramaphosa to accede to their demand of “free education, and free education now”.

“The latest is that Braamfontein has been rendered ungovernable, and other parts of the country have also been rendered ungovernable. Over the weekend, we met all SRC presidents, all 26 of us, and we decided that the state of higher education and learning in our country is not healthy and if we don't address it a lot of students will suffer.

“We're continuing with protests the rest of the week, until our demands are met. The week might not be enough to address our demands — we might need a month,” said Mfeka.

On Monday, roads close to the University of Johannesburg (UJ) were barricaded with burning tyres and rocks as student protests continued.

Large numbers of students were singing outside the gates as a police helicopter hovered overhead and campus security stood guard. Motorists were forced to use alternative roads.

Earlier, the police used a water cannon to disperse Wits students who started fires on the street in Braamfontein. The cannon sent students scattering for cover.

Protesting students on Monday retaliated against the police after water cannons were used to disperse them.
Protesting students on Monday retaliated against the police after water cannons were used to disperse them.
Image: Alaister Russell

Shortly afterwards, students responded by hurling stones at the police.

The Wits students then moved to UJ, where they met up with other students.

Asked whether protesting students were worried about the safety of civilians in the area, Mfeka said that was a consideration — but that ultimately “civilian safety is the primary concern of SAPS and JMPD more than it is our concern”.

“They [police] are literally hired to make sure that civilians and students in general are safe,” he said.

Protesting Wits students blockaded roads outside the university on Monday.
Protesting Wits students blockaded roads outside the university on Monday.
Image: Alaister Russell

Mfeka said that the number of students protesting could increase in the days to come.

“We had a meeting with different student formations, it was this morning at 3.30am, to say how do we find ways to work together beyond party lines. Some are yet to reconcile with those political differences.

“But as young people we will unite behind a common cause,” he said.

TimesLIVE


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