Water protest turns fatal

2014-01-14 00:00

A GRIEVING father yesterday scooped up sand on which his son had bled and placed it in a plastic bag.

Johannes Rahube said, “I don’t want my child’s blood to lie on the road. I will put it in his coffin.”

His son and another man were yesterday shot and killed during protests about poor service delivery of water near Brits.

The bodies of Osia Rahube, a mine worker and a freelance photographer in the community known as bra Mike, lay next to a maroon BMW after police allegedly started shooting on protesting residents from Mothutlung, outside Brits.

Enoch Semela, a community leader who had allegedly tried to negotiate with the police, was at the time of going to print still in a coma after he had allegedly been shot in the head.

The community were unhappy because they had not had water for more than a week — some for more than three months — and they wanted the Madibeng municipality to answer.

Some of the community members alleged that the police had yesterday used sharp point ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Spokesperson for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), Moses Dlamini, yesterday said they could not yet confirm these allegations.

“We are investigating the case and are still busy collecting information.”

He confirmed that two people had been shot and killed yesterday morning.

National police spokesperson Lieutenant- General Solomon Makgale referred queries to the North West police, who could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.

The object with which Semela had been shot was still embedded in his skull last night.

His older brother Sam said he was in a stable condition at the Ga-Rankuwa hospital.

Funky Mahlangu, who was injured in his lower body during the shooting, was taken to the Mothutlung clinic. Tumeleng Tengani lost several teeth and suffered a foot injury.

Sam Semela, who also took part in the protest, said the protesters had walked to the Madibeng municipality building yesterday morning.

They barricaded the road to Damondsville with rocks, branches and burning tyres.

A resident of Mothutlung, Lizzy Makwela, said the police confronted them as they marched and asked them where they were going. “We wanted answers from the municipality — we have been sitting for eight days without water. We did not get any notification.”

Makwela said the police ordered them to turn around because they were taking part in an illegal march.

When the residents ignored the order the police started shooting. “We did not even throw stones. We did nothing,” Makwela said.

Sam said his brother was trying to calm the marchers and tried to talk to the police. He was holding his hands in the air.

“They then shot him in the head.”

Johannes found out that his son had been shot when one of the marches showed him a cellphone photo of his body.

“The man who showed me the photo asked me if my son was wearing those clothes.”

He went to the scene of the shooting and found his son dead on the ground.

The police did not prevent people from walking around the scene of the shootings.

By 6 pm last night the streets were quiet, but sections of road were still strewn with items from the barricade. Police patrolled the streets in armoured vehicles.

DA member Leon Basson said the municipality’s water pumps were broken because of a lack of maintenance.

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