South Africa. One killed in a clash between police and student demonstrators | Protests news

The incident arose when police fired rubber bullets at protesters gathering for charges at the University of the Witwatersrand.

An apparent passer-by was killed in Johannesburg when South African police fired rubber bullets to disperse a group of protesters near the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in the city.

Students who demonstrated on Wednesday began taking to the streets in early January to demand that those who owe the university up to 150,000 rand ($ 9,850) still be allowed to register for the new academic year.

The cost of university education, prohibitive for many black students, has become a symbol of the inequalities that persist in South Africa more than 20 years after the end of apartheid.

Wits’ student representatives council chairman Mpendulo Mfeka said the slain man was not considered a student.

In a statement, the university’s management team said it was “deeply saddened to learn of the death of a 35-year-old man … outside the institution this morning.”

“Initial reports suggest a civilian was caught in clashes between protesters and SAPS [South Africa Police Services], and unfortunately lost his life. At this point, we have no confirmation of the cause of his death, ”the statement read.

Two student reporters were injured and three protesters were arrested by police and taken to a nearby post, he added.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Police spokesman Captain Kay Makhubela, speaking to SAFM state radio, confirmed the death of a “middle-aged man,” but did not specify who had fired the fatal shot.

“We are investigating the circumstances of the incident. The police were in the area of ​​the demonstration where they were deployed to maintain law and order, ”Makhubela said.

The Independent Police Investigations Directorate (IPID) said it was investigating the incident.

“The Directorate has dispatched four investigators to investigate the allegations, the team will also close the crime scene and conduct the investigation, including locating the person with the video footage, identifying eyewitnesses, etc. “

Most students in South Africa are caught in a group widely referred to as the “missing middle” – those who are not poor enough to qualify for government financial assistance but not rich enough to pay.

The protesting students took to the streets of the Braamfontein district, where the university is located.

“They [police] threw stun grenades in an attempt to disperse the protest, but we didn’t run away, so they started firing rubber bullets, ”Mfeka said. “The person who was shot was hit directly in the head.”

In 2016, numerous student protests in support of free higher education forced temporary closures at a number of South African universities.

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