[intro]University of Johannesburg (UJ) student, Kevin Baloyi (21) was shot and killed earlier this month during a party at a private student residence. The property managing company, Africa Housing Company (Afcho), reportedly threw the party for the students; however they claim that the security guard who killed the student was not their employee. Magnificent Mndebele was on the scene that night and caught the scuffle that broke out, as well as the shooting, on camera. Since that night, the police have been on his tail.[/intro]
I was there that night, the early hours of Saturday ,5 November, when first year Bsc computer science and informatics student, Kevin Baloyi was shot. I took the photos of the scuffle that broke out, and of his lifeless body after the security guard pulled the trigger.
Since that traumatic night, the security guard is still on the run and I have become the target of harassment by law enforcement officers for the visual record I have of the crime.
On Thursday 10 November, in the early hours of the morning, there was a knock on the door. I was not expecting any visitors, and you know the knock when you hear it.
Two police officers forced their way into my room and raided my cupboards, my drawers, my bags, ordering that I delete all the images in my possession of the night Baloyi was killed. They insisted that I had “defeated the ends of justice” and confiscated my laptop and cellphone which had everything on it, including images of the killing. They did all this without a warrant. The next day I went to the police station with a legal representative and the intimidation continued.
One of the policeman, Officer Mabuza, said that he wanted me to come to the police station alone so that we could have a “friendly and gentlemanly “conversation with regards photographs I had taken. They wanted me to delete the images of Baloyi’s death permanently.
I fear for my safety, policemen have told me that I am being watched and I no longer feel safe in my residence- as a student, or as a journalist. Afcho have unlimited access to the building where I live and since they did not prevent the police coming in and confiscating my laptop and phone earlier this month, without a warrant, what is to prevent law enforcement from accessing my private space, which I pay for as a student, and doing worse?
How can I trust lawless policemen who confiscated my equipment? I have been taking images of student protests over the past few months and I am well aware that student journalists are targeted for the work they’re doing on the ground. Even though Baloyi’s killing was not protest related, it speaks to the kind of access security guards have to student residences. Even under the care of the university, we are not safe. Despite this. I will not be silenced.