The hashtag #WitsProtest topped the trending list on Wednesday as news emerged that a bystander had been shot dead, allegedly by police, during a protest over university fees.
According to authorities, the 35-year-old man was struck twice by rubber bullets and succumbed to his injuries.
Multiple videos and images were circulated on social media showing the man’s last moments lying on the pavement.
Netcare 911 spokesperson Shawn Herbst said the man was shot as he left a clinic in Braamfontein and died at the scene.
TimesLIVE reported that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) was probing the death.
Police watchdog investigators comb scene of fatal Wits protest shooting
The University of the Witwatersrand said it was saddened to learn about the death and called on all people to keep calm.
“Wits University is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of a 35-year-old man in the Braamfontein CBD outside the institution this morning.
“The university extends its condolences to the family of the deceased. We condemn any form of violence and call on all persons to keep calm during this very difficult time,” said the university.
The university said it had made available health and counselling services to students and members of the community who require assistance.
“Queries directly related to this incident should be directed to the SAPS, as they were on the scene and were managing the matter as a public order incident. We are continuing to seek further information on this matter.
“We note with deep concern the escalation of the situation, which is regrettable, and we call on all persons to remain calm. We remain committed to seeking creative, peaceful solutions to any outstanding issues in the higher education sector.”
On social media, many expressed grief over the protest and the killing of the man.
Here is a snapshot of what was said.
Imagine passing a protest and then you shot at 3 times for no apparent reason.
You die….😭😭😭 Worse uphuma kaDokotela ubuyofuna impilo. Impilo that is then taken from you.
Yhuu hhayi impilo isn’t fair at all. 😭💔 May the Almighty make it easy for the families. #WitsProtests
— Sammu (@SammukeSoul) March 10, 2021
What I think about a lot when it comes to the police’s violent response to student protests is how they are essentially shooting at their own children. It is the same police officer who cannot afford University fees for their child. Make it make sense.#WitsProtests #FeesMustFall
— Tshepo, Wa diPodcast. (@TshepoMantje) March 10, 2021
This is controversial but I’m SO torn about the #WitsProtests. On one hand I see lies & fear being spread to incite support & I understand that free tertiary education is imposssible. On the other hand I know financial exclusion is unfair & everyone should be allowed to register
— Naz Pazazz (@Pazzzazzzz) March 10, 2021
I don’t think race have anything to do with that tragic incident. Anyone who could have been at the same spot at the time the police fired would have been unfortunately hit and killed. @SAPoliceService members responsible must be brought to book. #WitsProtests@PresidencyZA
— Lucky Fortune (@FortuneWide) March 11, 2021