Wits student speaks out after suffering a knee injury after being shot by police

    A few weeks ago Refilwe Chiloane was just an ordinary student, studying politics in her first year at Wits University –now she lies in a bed at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Parktown awaiting an operation to fix her knee.

    Chiloane suffered a painful injury when her left knee dislocated after she tore several ligaments when she tried to run away from shooting police during the #FeesMustFall protests. She explained that on the day (20 October) they were silently marching around the west campus and she was carrying no stones, sticks or any weapon when police surrounded them.

    “Shaeera Kalla went to the front to try and negotiate with the police to let us go when they threw a stun grenade and began shooting at us. As I turned to run away I fell and I was in terrible pain. I have never experienced so much pain before,” she said.

    She added that when she watched the video footage, which emerged a few days later, she was shocked by what she saw. “When I watched the video, I actually felt sorry for myself as the police threatened the two guys who tried to help me,” she added.

    In the video, after student leader Shaeera Kalla was shot 13 times with rubber bullets in the back by police, Chiloane is seen begging for help while police shoot in her direction. Police are heard shouting at the students attempting to help her get up. “Move or we will shoot!” they threatened.


    Chiloane explained that she joined the protest because she has a cousin who was unable to go to varsity because her single-parent mother was unable to afford the high cost of tuition. “This was not my first violent encounter with the police on campus; two weeks prior to my accident, police had their guns pointed at me but luckily enough, they did not shoot at me,” she added.

    Chiloane’s parents have supported their daughter through her ordeal and she is thinking of taking legal action against the police. “Since we have been protesting, police have been shooting at us and the police’s actions led to my injury. I am currently unable to write my exams and I have applied to write my exams early next year; that is all I can do at the moment,” she pointed out.

    She noted that doctors will be operating on her knee in a week’s time so that she will be able to walk properly again.

    She confirmed that since she has been hospitalised, only her friends and family have paid her a visit and she hasn’t received any visits from either the university or the police.

    Kalla remains at the Milpark Hospital where she is receiving treatment for her injuries.

    Gaahele Mokgoro

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