'our SON DIED from police teargas raid'

IMPOVERISHED LIFE: Mthokozisi Nkwanyana. 25/08/08. © Sowetan.
IMPOVERISHED LIFE: Mthokozisi Nkwanyana. 25/08/08. © Sowetan.

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

A family's dreams of a better life for a University of South Africa student - who they say died after a teargassing incident - have been shattered.

Mthokozisi Nkwanyana, 22, died last Thursday during a students' protest near their campus when police allegedly fired tear gas to disperse them.

He collapsed near the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

His eldest brother Bonga told Sowetan his brother had been a second-year political science student whose fees were paid for by his parents from their old-age state grants.

The dead student came from the impoverished rural area of KwaMaphumulo, on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast.

"He was our hope as a family. We do not know why police killed him this way," Bonga said.

"As it is now, we do not even know how we are going to bury him as we don't have even a cent.

"My parents tried everything to give him a better life by sending him to school with their stipends, with the hope that when he finished his studies he would get employment and put food on the table."

Bonga claimed that police had also refused them permission to see Mthokozisi's body at the mortuary.

Police claim that Mthokozisi died from an asthma attack.

Bonga said police worsened the situation by refusing his parents to identify Mthokozisi's body.

"We were in Durban three times after his death but we were unable see him.

"They have been sending us from pillar to post. My father went back today (Tuesday) for the fourth time now," a sobbing Bonga said.

The students were protesting against the institution's introduction of online regi- stration and study materials being supplied on CDs.

Students claimed that the proposed new registration system would exclude those who did not have Internet access.

More that 20 students were arrested after police used tear gas to disperse them.

Police spokesman Director Phindile Radebe denied that police used tear gas to disperse protesters.

"Police went there in numbers and on arrival students ran in different directions. Later they received information that one student had collapsed.

"The police did not use tear gas in any circumstance, but only used pepper spray," she said.

The matter had now been transferred to the Independent Complaints Directorate for investigation because the student had died during a police action.

The police did not refuse the family the right to see the body, Radebe said. The mortuary is run by the Department of Health.