Student activist helps family of shot Hout Bay teen

2017-09-21 06:00
A policeman shoots a child during the Hout Bay protest. (Justin Sullivan)

A policeman shoots a child during the Hout Bay protest. (Justin Sullivan)

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My son fears the police want to 'finish him off' - Mother of shot Hout Bay teen

2017-09-19 12:56

A 14-year-old boy was shot four times during a protest in Hangberg, Hout Bay, last week by riot police. Two rubber bullets entered his mouth and last Wednesday he had surgery to remove one lodged under his tongue. News24 spoke to his mother. Watch. WATCH

Cape Town – When student activist Wanelisa Xaba first saw a story going viral about a Hout Bay boy who was shot with rubber bullets during a protest, she tried to avoid reading it because it was triggering.

It was too close to home for the 28-year-old who had been involved in #FeesMustFall protests and witnessed police brutality.

When she finally decided to read the story about the 14-year-old, it was hard to get him and his mother, Pinky, out of her mind.

Like any curious teenager, he had gone to Hangberg, close to his home in Imizamo Yethu, to look at the protest over fishing quotas last week.

During the chaos that erupted, the 14-year-old and two women hid behind an overturned wooden table.

A police officer shot rubber bullets at them at close range. The incident was captured on video and shared on social media last week.

Compassion

The boy had to undergo surgery to remove rubber bullets lodged under his tongue.

His mother spent the week at his side at Groote Schuur Hospital. "You have a single black woman with five children, who is unemployed.

I thought, how is she going to travel to hospital and feed herself? What about her children left at home?" Xaba told News24 on Wednesday.

"It really touched me and hit close to home because I also come from a poor community. I have a lot of compassion for black women in townships trying to make it."

Xaba felt it was not enough to just share the article online. She asked her Facebook friends for help.

"They responded quite quickly. Within the first hour, we had R800!"

Around 30 people donated money to the mother directly, while 10 more said they would contribute at the end of the month.

Thanks to Xaba's help, the family had access to food, airtime and transport to get back home.

The family expressed their gratitude for her assistance.

IPID investigation

"It was good just being there and chatting with her. We wanted to make her life easier as she is getting through the trauma," Xaba said.

She was furious that officers, who were supposed to protect the vulnerable, ended up being the violators at times.

"Police brutality is continuously happening in townships. There is a lack of compassion."

Studying for her masters in social development at UCT, Xaba's thesis focuses on how black students navigate their identities in higher education institutions.

It also delves into colonial and apartheid legacies in education.

The training of police officers, says Xaba, is still linked to the legacy of apartheid.

"It is indicative of a highly militarised state. There needs to be a conversation around transforming that culture."

Pinky told News24 last week that her son remained fearful that the police officer who shot him would track him down "and finish him off".

WATCH: My son fears the police want to 'finish him off' - Mother of shot Hout Bay teen

"I told him that the police officer will never come to our home. The police are investigating him, so you are safe," the tearful mom shared.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate is investigating the shooting.

Read more on:    cape town  |  protests

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