Shaeera Kalla‚ the former University of Witwatersrand SRC president who is recovering in hospital after being hit by a claimed 13 rubber bullets on Thursday‚ is one of the founders of the Fees Must Fall movement.
Her shooting and claims of “police brutality” are now the subject of an Independent Police Investigative Directorate probe.
Although active on social media‚ Kalla has shied away from being a media spokesperson for the movement despite playing a catalytic role role at the time of its genesis.
According to a report in the Mail and Guardian‚ fellow student leader and current Wits SRC president Nompendulo Mkhatshwa‚ Kalla was the one who came up with the idea to protest against student fees in 2015.
“When we left that council meeting‚ we were both very angry. Shaeera was like‚ ‘Let’s protest’. Do you think the comrades will be fine with that? I said‚ ‘Shaeera‚ just tell them.’ So we called a meeting and that was that. Students said ‘yes’ to the protest and now we find ourselves having played an influential role in a national protest‚” Mkhatswa told the paper.
Kalla‚ Mkhatswa‚ Mcebo Dlamini — another former Wits SRC president‚ who is currently in custody for protest-related crimes‚ and Wits Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command chairperson Vuyani Pambo made headlines last year as the faces of the movement when it first took centre stage.
Although she gets likened to iconic women such as Fatima Meer‚ Rahima Moosa and Winnie Madikizela Mandela‚ who led anti-apartheid movements from the front‚ there is little personal information available about Kalla.
She has a Bachelor of Commerce in Politics‚ Philosophy and Economics from the University of Witwatersrand‚ and she is currently a postgraduate Political Science student.
The 23-year-old student leader hails from Laudium‚ a predominantly Indian suburb in Pretoria.
She is the youngest of five children and says she was raised in a Muslim household.
Kalla is a strong believer in peaceful student protests.
After her shooting‚ she took to Facebook to say: “Even as we sit in hospital beds and others languish in prisons‚ I take strength from students across the country who are continuing the fight.”
— TMG Digital