South Africa

COPS IN THE DOCK

Joburg police officers charged with Mthokozisi Ntumba’s murder enter ‘not guilty’ plea

Tshephisho Kekana,27, Cidraas Motseothatha, 43, Madimetja Legodi, 37, and Victor Mohammed (51) appear at the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court on 21 May 2021 in connection with the murder of Mthokozisi Ntumba. Ntumba was shot and killed when police fired rubber bullets at protesting students in Braamfontein on 10 March 2021. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

Four police officers accused of killing a civilian, Mthokozisi Ntumba, during a student protest in Braamfontein on 10 March last year, pleaded not guilty during their first appearance in the Johannesburg High Court on Monday.

The accused, all members of the South African Police Service, pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder and attempted murder. They are Tshepisho Kekana (27), Cidraas Boitumelo Motseothata (43), Madimetja Joseph Legodi (37) and Victor Nkosinathi Mohammed (51).

Students protesting against funding difficulties at institutions of higher learning formed a guard of honour when Mthokozisi Ntumba’s body was removed on 10 March 2021. Ntumba was shot during clashes between police and students. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla / Daily Maverick)

The murder and attempted murder charges are spelt out in the charge sheet:

Count 1, “in that upon or about 10 March 2021 and at or near De Beer Street in Braamfontein, in the district of Johannesburg Central, the accused did unlawfully and intentionally kill Mthokozisi Ntumba, by shooting him.

Count 2, “in that upon or about the date mentioned in court… attempted to kill Masiu Oarabile Lefa by shooting at him.”

Count 3, “attempted to kill Siphesihle Mtsweni, an adult male, by shooting at him.” 

Count 4, “the accused did unlawfully and intentionally attempt to kill Nikiwe Rasmeni, an adult female, by shooting at her.”

Wits University students protest in Johannesburg in March 2021 over the financial exclusion of students. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

On 10 March 2021, Mthokozisi Ntumba visited his doctor at a clinic in Braamfontein. Moments after leaving the clinic, Ntumba was fatally shot as police opened fire on protesting students. He died at the scene.

Three of the accused allegedly shot and injured three students from the  Johannesburg Institute of Engineering who had been standing outside the building. Police reportedly entered the building and continued to shoot at fleeing students.

The matter was briefly delayed when the judge questioned the presence of media in the court and whether proper procedures allowing for them to be there had been followed.

When court resumed, the first witness testified about Ntumba’s last moments. She described how she had raced back to the clinic after the shooting to alert the doctor who had seen to the victim moments earlier.

Mthokozisi Ntumba’s family members demand justice

The witness said that although she did not witness the actual shooting, she strongly believed that the shots she heard were those that killed Ntumba. She said that she saw a police vehicle immediately after hearing the gunshots.

Ntumba’s cousin, Sthembiso Jwara, told Daily Maverick soon after the shooting in March last year that the family was shocked and devastated, especially since his death was caused by people who were meant to ensure the safety of citizens.

The trial continues on Tuesday. About 20 witnesses are expected to testify. DM

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