THE MAN accused of holding eight Wits Law council members hostage last Friday has been released because he is “mentally unwell”.
According to Hillbrow Police spokesperson Constable Mduduzi Zondo, charges of intimidation and trespassing against the man, Sibusiso Mahuli, were withdrawn by the senior prosecutor at the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
It is unclear whether a psychologist was involved in the decision to drop the case.
On Monday, Wits Vuvuzela reported that eight Wits Law School council members locked themselves in a storeroom and called police after two men barged into a meeting and used the threat of a gun — which was not seen — to intimidate them.
Campus Control apprehended one of the men, Mahuli, while the second managed to escape. No gun was found on the scene or among the arrested man’s belongings.
When Campus Control senior investigator Michael Mahada called Mahuli’s mother, she told him that her son was mentally “not well”.
Wits Vuvuzela contacted Mahuli and questioned him about Friday’s incident. He said he was not allowed on campus anymore but that he still intended to study at the university.
However, he said his mother had forbidden him from returning to the university.
A Campus Control report, compiled from CCTV footage, testimony from involved students and Campus Control officers, as well as Wits Vuvuzela interviews has established Friday’s sequence of events.
Campus Control said the two men entered the campus via Senate House without signing in to receive a visitor’s slip.
At 5.07pm they are seen on camera entering the Law School, and at 6.16pm they are seen leaving.
Two Campus Control officers entered the building at 5.30pm, followed 10 minutes later by armed police.
The footage then shows Mahuli returning to the Law School building at 5.50pm, where he was pointed out by one of the Law council students and arrested. Campus Control and police found a letter in the Law School council offices from the university acknowledging Mahuli’s application to study at Wits next year.
Hostage man speaks
Asked about Friday’s events, Mahuli said he had come to the Law School to find out more about courses. In the middle of the interview with Wits Vuvuzela, he broke out in song: “92, 92, 92, verse 92….that’s my song for Vuvuzela”.
Jeanette Phiri, head of student enrolment, told Wits Vuvuzela that the university could not deny any person a place at the university based on their mental state. If a student was found to be mentally disabled when they registered, the onus was on the faculty to accommodate the student.
Phiri said an incident like this was unprecedented.
One of the students held hostage, Nonkululeko Sunduza, said he did not believe Mahuli should be allowed back at Wits.
“If he is mentally ill … he could pose the same threat to us and other students. He should be institutionalised. We cannot have another saga,” said Sunduza.
Sunduza complained that Campus Control took too long, about 30 minutes, to respond to their call for help. He said the lengthy wait resulted in the students calling the SA Police Service.
Mahada said Campus Control had passed on its findings to Wits management.