Creche children caught up in pupils’ protest crossfire

2019-05-01 06:00

SEVEN children had to be rushed to a clinic after allegedly being caught in the crossfire between protesting pupils and the police in Copesville on Monday.

According to ER24 communications officer Werner Vermaak, the children, who are between the ages of four and five, had to be transported to a nearby clinic after being exposed to teargas.

“At approximately 11.25 am paramedics from ER24 arrived at a creche near Copesville High School where they found seven children crying and feeling unwell. They were assessed by the medics and transported to a nearby clinic for further care. It is understood that protest action was taking place at Copesville High School, opposite the creche.

“According to bystanders on the scene, teargas was activated and some of the gas affected the nearby creche. The creche explained that they had contacted the parents of the children to inform them of the situation,” said Vermaak.

Pupils who were protesting about a lack of water and electricity at the school for the last two weeks, since the school was allegedly disconnected for unpaid utility bills, were met with rubber bullets and tear gas deployed by the police.

Many Copesville residents were prevented from using certain roads in fear of violent attacks after pupils stoned teachers’ cars and blocked the school gates, not allowing any teachers present to leave the school.

Protesting pupils, who wished to remain anonymous, said that they were fed up with the situation at the school regarding water and electricity, and said that their protest, which was planned until 2 pm, was a way of voicing their anger.

Teachers were only able to leave the school once the police arrived and had managed to disperse the crowds of pupils gathered in protest.

Vermaak confirmed that a female high school pupil was treated on site for an injury, which she explained was a result of being shot by police with rubber bullets. The school has since told pupils that Copesville Secondary will be closed until Friday.

Police say that a case of malicious damage to property was opened and that investigations will continue.

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha confirmed that the school owed the municipality R2 million in outstanding electricity and water bills.

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