Thuli Madonsela: Death of Mthokozisi Ntumba ‘the Hector Pieterson moment of democratic SA’
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela says the death of Mthokozisi Ntumba could be described as “the Hector Pieterson moment of democratic SA”.
Ntumba, 35, became a household name in SA after he was shot dead during a fees protest by students outside Wits University last week.
He was a bystander who was killed while leaving a nearby clinic in Braamfontein.
Ntumba had just completed his masters’ degree and worked as a human settlements planner at the City of Tshwane.
Speaking on Radio Islam this week, Madonsela slammed the actions of police officers during the fees protest, saying she would not be surprised if the killing of Ntumba was due to “rogue elements” and a “hidden agenda” in the police force.
She said Ntumba’s death could be likened to what happened to Pieterson, a schoolboy who was shot and killed during the Soweto uprising in 1976 when the police opened fire on students protesting against the enforcement of teaching in Afrikaans.
“For me, what that would mean is that we all agree that never again should we respond with too much force when our children go on strike for legitimate reasons,” said Madonsela.
She said protesting students had the right to be angry, but violence and destroying properties was not justifiable because “they are shooting themselves in the foot”.
“Using your soft power can move things forward but if you start engaging violently, even the people supporting you eventually stand back and blame you even though you are the victim. The violence is unjustifiable and for their own sake, the students should stop getting involved in it,” she said.
TimesLIVE reported that four police officers, who are yet to be identified, were arrested in connection with Ntumba’s death.
The officers will appear in the Johannesburg magistrate’s court on Wednesday to face charges of murder, three counts of attempted murder and defeating the ends of justice.
Speaking to Sowetan, Ntumba’s family said the arrests were the first step for justice but only convictions will bring them closure.
“We want to see those who did this terrible act face the consequences of their actions,” said Ntumba’s cousin, Sthembiso Jwara.
“Obviously, the arrest is the first step in the legal process. Our hearts will find some comfort when these people are convicted.