The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says they believe they have a water-tight case against four police officers arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of Mthokozisi Ntumba. Ntumba, a bystander, was shot dead in Braamfontein, Johannesburg during student protests last week.
Police officers Tshepiso Kekana, Motseothata Boitumelo, Madimeja Lekgodi, and Victor Mohammed appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court today.
They are facing face murder charges, three counts of attempted murder, and one count of defeating the ends of justice. They will remain behind bars until their next court appearance on 24 March, when they are expected to apply for bail.
With their faces covered, the four police officers walked into the court facing a barrage of photographers and television cameras.
“While police were trying to disperse the protesters, there were people that were injured. The state has received statements of the three people that were injured. Investigations are still ongoing. So, the charge of defeating the ends of justice, after the incident happened. We are alleging as a state that the police officers failed in a manner that upholds the law. We allege that they failed to report the incident to their superiors and they failed to ensure that the scene is secured,” says NPA Spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane.
With the seriousness of the charges, Mjonondwane says they will be opposing bail.
“The state will be opposing bail. It’s a schedule 5 offence. We are not yet at the stage where we need to disclose the content of the docket to the defence until we are trial-ready. Yes, there is CCTV footage that is under investigation.”
There was widely circulated footage of how Mthokozisi reportedly met his death. While the NPA says they will not divulge what evidence will be used in court, they will not be relying on the video footage for the purpose of the bail hearing. They say they will also not rely on the post mortem report, which the defence has asked for until they are ready for trial.
Meanwhile, a handful of students were singing outside the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court during the appearance of the four accused.
Below are pictures of a memorial at the spot where Ntumba was shot:
Pics by Sipho Kekana
Wits University Student Representative Council member, Scelo Kubheka, is calling on the court to deny the officers bail.
“We must be here to make sure that this police get punished and not only them, even their commanders because this police were given commandments by someone in the high rank; the top structures of the police. It’s either [Police Minister] Bheki Cele or [National Police Commissioner ] General Sithole. Even then they must come to court. They must appear because these police don’t give themselves a mandate. They are given a mandate by someone.”
The four police officers are to remain in custody until their next court appearance, next Wednesday.
Memorial service for Ntumba
Colleagues at a memorial service in Pretoria for the late Mthokozisi Ntumba have remembered him as an upright professional with integrity at all times.
The 35-year old father of three was a town planner at the City of Tshwane’s metro municipality.
Mthokozisi Ntumba’s colleagues remembered him at a memorial service held in Pretoria today: