“Students came here to protest armed only with their student cards and they were met with guns” a quote from one of the students from the Wits (Witwatersrand University) protests that took place on Wednesday, 10 March 2021.
Police brutality never left after the apartheid government and it is now thriving more than ever under the new leadership of black police. Our acceptance of police violence and brutality is evident on how we respond/ed to police brutality. Or is it that we have so much trust in our police and its authority that we confused brutality with discipline. Although it’s obvious that a mob of financially frustrated students do not need discipline or even worse, bullets. They don’t even have to take their frustrations to the streets.
Bullets are for war and criminals, not education hungry people who were promised free education by a broke incompetent government that fails to keep its promise.
What sort of training allows police to find unarmed student protesters marching and shoot at them? Or a young Julius Nathaniel who was a little boy with Down syndrome thrown inside a police van to die? Or Katlego Monareng who was shot dead running away from the police during a student protest. Nothing is as less intimidating as a person running away from your direction, but he was still shot, dead by the trigger happy police who felt entitled to cutting a life short.
What was witnessed by the nation on that sorrowful Wednesday morning is the reality with our police. A gruesome scenery of men trained to put their lives at risk to save lives, taking a life is their first instinct. An innocent hopeful life cut short by police who felt like exercising violence added substance to their professions.
A slap, a kick, a bullet, it makes them feel alive, even if someone dies. This time it was Mthokozisi Ntumba who was killed like his life did not matter. With nothing on him posing as a threat.
Police brutality is a crises in South Africa as it is in the USA. Police assault and kill innocent people regularly. It only became worse during lockdown because police were deployed to monitor people and their movements. But According to the Ipid’s own annual statistics, (table 4, page 42) SAPS officers killed 538 people in the 2017-2018 reporting year, and 440 people in the 2018-2019 reporting year. It will be more each year if the police department does not adopt any transformation soon.
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