Mercury: Student’s family want answers

Student’s family want answers

August 27, 2008 Edition 1


THE family of Mthokozisi Nkwanyana, the 20-year-old University of South Africa student who died during a protest, say they are trying to raise funds for his funeral on Saturday.

Nkwanyana was a second-year political science student at the university, and the family depended on his success and hoped that he would one day save them from their anguish and poverty.

Now the impoverished family are desperately seeking funds, and appealing to the public and well-wishers to assist them with the funeral arrangements.

While the university announced that both Durban campuses would reopen for normal student activities today, Nkwanyana’s family were still demanding answers as to what caused his death because they were not satisfied with the information they had received from investigating officers.

According to Independent Complaints Directorate spokesman Dikeledi Phiri, the pathologist who examined Nkwanyana said the post mortem results indicated that he had died from what appeared to be a swollen heart and liver.

“Students need to give investigating officers the correct information, because if they leave out crucial information then we are unable to continue with the investigations,” she said.

“Investigations into the student’s death will not be taken any further since the post mortem results indicate that the deceased died of natural causes, and there was no sign of police involvement in the matter,” Phiri said.

Nkwanyana’s sister Thandeka Ndlovu said there were so many uncertainties about the way her brother died.

“Nobody has bothered to tell us the cause of my brother’s death, and we have heard rumours that his heart and liver were swollen.

“I find it very strange that my brother suddenly developed breathing problems during the day of the protest, and died just as the police were dispersing protesting students. There are so many questions that have not been answered,” said Ndlovu.

Students who were with Nkwanyana when he died claimed that the police were responsible for his death, and needed to take responsibility for their actions.

Ntando Khuzwayo, a student at Unisa, said the police had beaten them up for no reason, and had used pepper spray and teargas.

“We suggested to the police that we should control the students, because they would listen to us. However, the police just sprayed chemicals directly on to our faces, and that is what caused Nkwanyana’s death,” he said.

Jabulani Msomi, who sells fruit at Unisa, said that when he asked the police what was going on, they sprayed pepper spray on his face and beat him.

“I was examined by the doctor because I also had trouble breathing after the police spayed chemicals on to my face,” he said.

Msomi, who witnessed the incident, said police sprayed something on to Nkwanyana and he started shaking. He tried to run away, but a police officer ran over him with a motorcycle near the ICC, where he died, Msomi added.

Police spokesman Michael Read denied that offices had used teargas or pepper spray to disperse the students.

“At no time did police use pepper spray or teargas – the South African Police Service no longer uses teargas. We verbally warned them to disperse, and they did so,” he said.