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Police open culpable homicide case after TUT student's death

TUT student leader Lesego Benjamin Phehla was run over by a car during fees protests.

FILE: Students from the Tshwane University of Technology demonstrating in Pretoria CBD. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Police say they have opened a case of culpable homicide following the death of a Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) student leader Lesego Benjamin Phehla who was run over by a car during a Fees Must Fall protest.

Authorities say they initially opened a case of a reckless and negligent driving after the driver lost control and drove through a group of protesting students outside TUT's Soshanguve campus.

Phehla and three other students were injured and taken to the hospital where he subsequently died.

The protest was sparked by the university's decision not to provide buses for the students to go to the Fees Must Fall protest at the Union Buildings.

Police's Sally De Beer says they have also opened a case of malicious damage to property after angry students stoned the driver's car and burnt some of his belongings including clothes and a bed at his home.

"The police had initially opened a reckless and negligent driving case but after he passed away, it was changed to a culpable homicide investigation. The driver is currently not under arrested and we will investigate the case thoroughly. Once the investigation is completed, we will present it to the prosecuting authority to decide whether prosecuting will take place."

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has sent his heartfelt condolences and sympathies to Phehla's family.

Nzimande has also called on members of the public to be vigilant when driving in areas where institutions of higher learning are located and to be on the lookout for protesting students.

His spokesperson Harold Maloka said, "The minister has joined the president [Jacob Zuma] in extending his condolences to the family, university community and the student fraternity at large. There are protests in various campuses and therefore we should be quite vigilant because we can't afford another death; one death too many."