Two students arrested on Wednesday for the alleged possession of an illegal firearm are expected to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
On Thursday, News24 reported that a Crime Intelligence report about a dangerous weapon that was “operationalised” led police to a gathering in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on Wednesday.
During the gathering, two students were allegedly observed carrying a Galil rifle. They were seen driving off in a vehicle and police followed before stopping them in Auckland Park.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters told News24 the students will appear in the regional court on Friday.
After a search, a Galil rifle of Israeli origin and a loaded magazine were found, resulting in the arrest of the students, police said.
Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela ordered an urgent probe into the firearm.
Over the past week, university students – most of them from Wits University – took to the streets over historical debt and the barring of registration. This week saw University of Johannesburg students also joining the call for free, decolonised education for all.
While details around the students’ arrest are currently scant, News24 understands the two will face charges of the possession of an illegal firearm and the possession of a dangerous weapon.
The 5.56 mm Galil rifle had one magazine. It’s understood no live rounds were found.
News24 also understands the firearm may have been permanently deactivated, with the barrel welded shut so that it can’t operate.
While the names of the students were not yet known, information from officials with knowledge of the arrests suggested that one of them, a woman, is a student from Cape Town who is visiting Johannesburg.
The male suspect was said to be a student at a reputable film school.
Meanwhile, two other students, who were arrested in Braamfontein on Monday, are also expected to appear for a bail application.
Moses Leshodi and Orediretse Mosebe face a charge of public violence.
News24 reported that Leshodi and Mosebe appeared alongside Siyasanga Tshembele and Sivuyile Mhatu, who were out on R500 bail.
The court heard from the State that Leshodi and Mosebe had a pending case in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, which was why it opposed their release on bail at this stage.
The police’s conduct in reacting to the protests has also been a focal point following the killing of Mthokozisi Ntumba, who was shot dead, allegedly by officers who were dispersing protesting students in Braamfontein last week.
Ntumba was exiting a clinic after visiting a doctor there.
Four police officers have been charged with killing him.