Gruesome injuries in Matat riot

2008-10-17 00:00

One person had a rubber bullet stuck inside his nose, another inside an ear, and a third person had one lodged in a thigh.

These were some of the injuries reported after rioting in Matatiele on Thursday, the spokesman for the Eastern Cape Health Department, Sizwe Kupelo, told Weekend Witness.

He said one person was moved from Taylor Bequest Hospital to a hospital in Pietermaritzburg and the other two to a hospital in Umtata. They were said to be in a stable condition.

A total of 11, and not three people as police earlier reported, were injured, as police fired rubber bullets at a crowd in the centre of the town on Thursday as two opposing groups clashed over the demarcation of the town.

Police said they used rubber bullets and stun grenades after they were pelted with stones by a group of protesters who in support of the re-incorporation of the town into KZN.

It is believed that the group tried to disrupt a march organised by a pro-Eastern Cape grouping.

The Matatiele Maluti mass action organising committee (Maoc) said the executive will explore the possibility of taking legal action against the police as they feel police acted improperly during the riots.

Mandla Galo, the convenor of Maoc, said that apart from the people injured by rubber bullets, one person was injured after police fired live ammunition, an allegation that was denied by the police.

He was speaking after the Maoc held a mass meeting yesterday to take stock of the previous day’s events.

“We are very sad because the police provoked people, they never even warned them,” said Galo.

He alleged that politicians, including councillors in Matatiele, funded the march by the pro-Eastern Cape grouping. “The municipality used taxpayers’ money to pay for buses that were used to bus people to Matatiele for the march,” he said.

Ntai Sello, the mayor of Matatiele, rubbished Galo’s claims.

“These allegations are very far from the truth and malicious, to say the least. We had nothing to do with that march and we as the municipality will never fund any march. We just do not do that.”

Sello warned “those fomenting violence” that such behaviour will only serve to destabilise the town.

The ANC in the Eastern Cape’s Alfred Nzo region dismissed Galo’s assertions that the marchers were bussed in from towns outside Matatiele.

The regional leadership also denied allegations that the march was used to drum up support for an ANC breakaway party.

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