Police in court facing murder charge after death of Mthokozisi Ntumba
Four police officers accused of killing Mthokozisi Ntumba, a bystander caught up in the protest by Wits University students last week, appeared in the Johannesburg magistrate's court on Wednesday.
They covered their faces with buffs over their heads.
The public order policing unit members are Tshepiso Kekana, 27, Cidraas Motseathata, 43, Madimetsa Legodi, 37, and Victor Mohammed, 51.
The case is back in court on March 24 for a formal bail application. They face a charge of murder, three charges of attempted murder and defeating the ends of justice.
The count of murder is listed as a schedule 5 offence.
Each accused had their own representative. One of the legal representatives asked for the state to provide a post-mortem report, forensic investigation report and divulge whether they would use eyewitness statements.
The representatives asked about evidence used to make the charge a schedule five one when there was no post-mortem report.
It took half the day for proceedings to begin and students arrived late at court after a rainy start to the day. They chanted and sang struggle songs, at one point creating a circle around a placard that read: “Justice for Mthokozisi.”
Police were armed and visible with more than five vehicles parked outside the courthouse. The students sang “Asinalo uvalo”, which loosely translates as “we have no fear”, pointing at the police.
Wits SRC president Mpendulo Mfeka said they would not stop until their demands were met and justice was served.
“We are here to ensure that the police who shot Mthokozisi are held responsible,” he charged.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) on Monday said the officers were from the public order policing unit.
Ntumba, 35, died in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, last Wednesday during the university fees protest. Police had fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters.
Police minister Bheki Cele, provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela and investigators from Ipid visited Ntumba’s family in Kempton Park.
Cele said the allegation that police officers killed Ntumba was becoming difficult to defend. He said he received monthly reports from Ipid regarding police conduct.