University of Witwatersrand students abandoned a march to the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters on Thursday when two of their leaders were admitted to hospital after being shot with rubber bullets by police.
Former student representative council president (SRC) Shaeera Kalla was shot at least nine times in her back, allegedly when her hands were raised, while she was trying to restore calm during a protest.
The shooting took place outside the university’s careers and counselling development unit, after a group of about 30 protestors disrupted a chemical engineering test, tearing up question papers.
Wits SRC secretary Fasiha Hassan said: “We’re absolutely disgusted at the increasing use of violence by the police, which is pushing us further and further towards our graves. There is a clear targeting of student leaders. When another student tried to protect Shaeera, he was also shot.
“Shaeera and Busisiwe [Seabe] are in hospital and Mcebo [Dlamini] is in jail. Vuyani [Pambo] and I are the only ones left.”
Footage of the confrontation shows Kalla talking to the police before being pushed by one of the officers. Seconds later, a stun grenade is thrown and chaos erupts.
“Shaeera was speaking to the police then turned around to calm down the students who were screaming. Next thing five officers start shooting at her from about a metre away,” said first year BSc student Yamkela Gola. “I was standing next to her but they didn’t even point their guns at me.”
Gola said the group had finished mobilising support and tried to hold a meeting on a nearby lawn, but were barred from doing so by police.
#FeesMustFall activist and Wits student Rashaad Yusuf-Dadoo said the police “threw five stun grenades. They continued to shoot at Shaeera and [another student] who hurt her leg while we were trying to help her up to escape.”
Two other students were also rushed to hospital, one of them Seabe, who had an asthma attack after a stun grenade landed next to her.