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Police accused of heavy-handedness after man killed in Wits student protests

The 35-year-old man was coming out of a clinic when he was shot with rubber bullets by police officers who were firing at a group of protesting students.

A large group of South African Police Service (SAPS) officers disperse a group of students who were blocking roads during a protest in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on 10 March 2021. Picture: Emmanuel Croset/AFP

BRAAMFONTEIN - Wits University students have accused police of being blatantly heavy-handed after a man was shot and killed during their protest in Braamfontein on Wednesday.

The 35-year-old man was coming out of a clinic when he was shot with rubber bullets by police officers who were firing at a group of protesting students.

READ: One person dead as police fire rubber bullets at Wits students

Police have once again used stun grenades and rubber bullets this afternoon to disperse protesters who had blocked Empire Road near Wits University with rocks and burning tyres.

Wits University student Peterson Radasi was one of the students who witnessed the shooting of the man in Braamfontein.

He said that he did not understand why officers shot at the innocent bystander because students were visibly wearing regalia.

"We were all in this colour so you could easily identify protesters but for you to shoot people who were not in this colour, without asking 'who are they? What are they doing there?' is totally brutal."

Radasi described what he saw when police shot at the man.

"When he was asking 'why am I being shot?' He was shot a second time, so it was not one shot, it was two shots. First, he fell down, then he woke up, had the energy to wake up and they shot him a second time."

Students are calling for Police Minister Bheki Cele to bring to justice those responsible for the death of this man.

READ MORE: 'He was gasping': Doctor recalls trying to save student protest shooting victim

Police watchdog Ipid is investigating the shooting.

Meanwhile, there has been widespread condemnation following the fatal shooting.

Wits University said that it condemns all forms of violence and has called on law enforcement to conduct the necessary processes to ensure those responsible for the shooting were decisively dealt with.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said that police had no regard or respect for students.

The Wits protest comes just two days after the 2021 academic calendar commenced at the institution.

Students are now calling for historical debt be scrapped.

Today’s shooting has left South Africans saddened, with some questioning the conduct of the police.

Wits University said that it was saddened by the death of a 35-year-old man.

Spokesperson Shirona Patel: "The university extends its condolences to the family of the deceased. The university condemns any forms of violence and calls on all persons to keep calm during this very difficult time."

Malema said that officers had lost the plot on how to conduct crowd control.

"What happened to the shields to push the children back? What happened to the Public Order Police? Bloody illiterates, who have no idea what it means to control crowds. They think black people can only be controlled with pain and blood."

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