Note: The police routinely shoot unsuspecting residents and their children without warning. Generally, police justify their actions by saying residents are throwing rocks at them (this is often a lie). It takes police shooting the media for newspapers to actually public the truth.
14 August 2009, 12:22
By Kowthar Solomons
A policeman fired a rubber bullet at a Cape Argus news team during a service delivery protest in Khayelitsha’s Site C – despite the reporter having identified himself as a journalist.
The reporter and photographer ran for cover when police opened fire at about 9pm last night on a small group of protesters burning tyres, clothing and furniture along Lansdowne Road.
Police had closed the road and started firing, allegedly without warning. Everyone in the area, including the Cape Argus news team, ran for cover, finding refuge in a near-by shack. There they and two residents were approached by a policeman and asked to raise their hands.
The Cape Argus reporter complied, with his notebook still in one hand, and identified himself as a media member.
Soon after the policeman lowered his gun, a colleague ran in. Ignoring the first policeman’s warnings that the group was media, the second policeman fired a rubber bullet into the shack without warning.
Earlier the photographer had been shot in the leg by a rubber bullet that had ricocheted off a nearby dustbin.
The team was on the scene to cover renewed service delivery protests in the area, the first of which took place about three weeks ago, with people demanding action from Cape Town mayor Dan Plato.
He met the residents at the time, promising them that he would address their grievances in two weeks. The angry residents at the scene said last night that they had waited long enough for the mayor.
Resident Xolani Ngcube said they were sick of empty promises.
“The mayor said he would deal with our problems in two weeks. That was three weeks ago. We want decent housing and electricity and all the other things he promised,” he said.
Children were among the crowd of protesters when police opened fire with rubber bullets, prompting residents to question their use of force.
Resident Thandi Mswai said she could no longer trust the police.
Police were still patrolling by late last night and the only signs of the protest were the fires still burning on the roadside. The police were unable to respond before the Cape Argus went to print today.
* This article was originally published on page 3 of The Cape Argus on August 14, 2009