Four dead as police open fire on crowd of looters

2014-12-04 00:00

MZIWODWA Khuzwayo (48) narrowly ­escaped death by huddling behind a truck after police opened fire on a crowd of looters in ­Bizana on Tuesday.

Four people were killed and 11 others were injured in the gunfire.

The truck ferrying rice, sugar and beans ­overturned after stalling on a hill in the small Eastern Cape town on the KZN border, spilling the contents onto the roadside. The truck was soon surrounded by members of the community who started looting the goods.

Police are accused of opening fire on the crowd after they refused to stop.

Khuzwayo described how he watched helplessly as his neighbours were gunned down.

Khuzwayo had left his Mzamba home in the morning to catch a taxi to Port Edward to shop for groceries. He said he noticed a large crowd had gathered in the middle of the road and went to investigate. “There was rice, sugar and beans everywhere. I stood there watching people ­taking the rice and the police asked them to stop,” said Khuzwayo.

Khuzwayo, a boat driver, said trucks regularly crashed on the hill and it was not the first time that people had looted from a wreck.

He said the police asked the community to stop but they refused.

“The police then turned around and opened fire shooting at everyone in front of them. I only survived because I hid in front of the truck and watched as the police shot everyone.

“I ran away from the truck and there was a guy behind me and when I turned around I saw him lying on the ground, he had been shot and I called the ambulance,” said Khuzwayo.

“A policeman came to me and I asked him why he had killed the people and he said he would kill me too. I told him to go ahead because he had already killed the others, that’s when he walked away,” said Khuzwayo.

The father of five said he was just grateful to be alive. “It’s sad that others didn’t make it,” said Khuzwayo.

Brigadier Miranda Mills, the Eastern Cape police spokesperson, said the police would ­never open fire on innocent people. “The group became increasingly more aggressive and ­started pelting the manager and the police members with stones whilst advancing again towards the direction of the truck and its load.

“Police members tried to find cover ­underneath the trailer of the truck but the group kept advancing, throwing stones at them. The police members fired warning shots but it seemed not to have the desired impact to scare the mob away,” said Mills.

The Independent Police Investigation ­Directorate is investigating the incident.

• amanda.khoza@witness.co.za

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