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Wits SRC: Kalla shooting, deliberate attack on FMF leaders

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It was mayhem at the University of the Witwatersrand on Thursday after police used rubber bullets to disperse protesting students. In what is considered one of the most brutal incidents of force used by police, former Wits Student Representative Council (SRC)  president and a leader of the #Feesmustfall movement, Shaeera Kalla was shot 13 times in the back with rubber bullets by police. Kalla, one of multiple protestors who were shot at, was reportedly peacefully protesting while chanting songs as the group made it’s around campus.

Kalla and the other wounded protesters were subsequently taken to a nearby hospital, where they received medical care. The incident, which occurred at approximately 12pm, has been described as being part of a deliberate attack on the #FeesMustFall movement’s leaders.

In a statement shared on Facebook, Kalla provided details of the incident, affirming that the actions of the police were unprovoked.

“I have heard of other comrades assisting an injured student and being told by the police to leave her or face being shot at by rubber bullet. Comrade Busisiwe Seabe who helped me to get away after the first few shots, is also in hospital as you all know,” the statement read.

Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat, Wits SRC incoming deputy secretary, Kaamil Alli describing Thursday’s incident as similar to protests that have transpired across the country in recent weeks, says that the students were peacefully marching around campus when the police opened fire at them “unprovoked.”

In light of reports that protestors intercepted examinations and destroyed test papers, he states that students who were writing, after hearing protesting, decided to join the protest action, further asserting that no protesters enter any test venue.

“No protestors went into any classroom or forcibly removed anyone from any venue yesterday, it was merely them moving around campus singing and whoever joined the protesters, did so willingly,” he stated.

He asserts that the Wits SRC strongly condemns the shooting of Kalla, further stating that while incidents of police brutality is not new to Wits #FeesMustFall, Kalla’s shooting appeared to be deliberate.

“Shaeera was targeted; to get shot 13 times in the back can’t be defined as crowed control, it’s clearly targeted.”

Alli notes that police have not shown evidence of being able to manage crowds in protests, stating that they lack sufficient training.

“I had a conversation with one of the police offices yesterdays and he said that the police feel intimidated by students when they move around singing,” he added.

In response to Thursday’s incident, he says that the state is employing mechanisms to kill the movement, but that such tactics will not be successful.

“It started with the arrest of Mcebo Dlamini and now with the shooting of comrade Shaeera. Our cause is a legitimate one and is backed by the constitution.”

Given growing criticism against outbreaks of violence and the destruction of property, Alli says that he strongly condemns violent methods of protest.

“Unfortunately such elements do exist within a peaceful movement, but we as leaders have to try and quell that everywhere we go, but unfortunately it’s very difficult,” he said.

In his criticism of the violence, Alli states that the source of the anger stems from years of oppression and institutionalized violence against non-white children.

He adds that it has become increasingly difficult to monitor who the instigators of violence are and to confirm their participation in the broader movement.

“The very presence of the police is intimidating and that’s what vice chancellors need to realize; students are peaceful, it’s actually the presence and provocation of the police that’s causing these skirmishes,” Alli continued.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has confirmed that it will be conducting an investigation into the incident.

VOC


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