Hit by ricochet bullet

2018-02-01 13:45
The bullet that struck a commuter in the face during last Thursday's taxi protest.

The bullet that struck a commuter in the face during last Thursday's taxi protest. (Ian Carbutt)

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A Pietermaritzburg woman has told of how she was struck in the face by a ricocheting bullet during the violent taxi protest last Thursday.

Speaking to The Witness on Wednesday, the Elandskop woman, who asked not to be named, said it is “only by God’s grace” that she escaped with just a bruise. “There are still flashes of trauma coming through but I will be fine,” she said.

The incident happened at the East Street taxi rank at around 10 am amid the taxi protest chaos that gripped the city.

She said as she heard gunshots being fired, she prayed the bullets would not hit her, fearing that she and the other passengers could be caught in the cross-fire.

As she frantically tried to get into a taxi to go back home, a stray bullet struck her face. The mother of one had a lucky escape when all she suffered was a laceration on her left cheek.

“I didn’t even see where it came from. We heard gunshots and just cowered behind the taxis at the rank hoping not to get hurt.

“I felt something hit my face. I thought it was a stone, but when I looked down I saw a slug not far from where I was standing and blood started spouting from my cheek.”

It appears that the impact of the bullet was lessened because it first hit another surface.

“When I found the bullet I was very shocked. I realised that I could have died.”

The woman said she had left home at around 6 am and got stuck at the Imbali Crossing where the drivers obstructed the road.

“The bus driver opted to take the Slangspruit route. When we got to town, there was a horde of taxi drivers at the top of Langalibalele Street near Unisa wielding pangas and knobkerries and they were throwing people off the taxis.”

The woman said she got off the bus and opted to walk to work but on her way, her employer called and told her not to come in as the situation in the CBD was volatile.

“I saw that things were bad. I didn’t want to stay in town because I know strikes can be dangerous.

“You never know what could happen. I just wanted to get to the taxi rank and go home where I would be safe. It was a very scary experience. If that bullet had hit my eye it could have caused big damage.”

The woman said she is outraged that there were no police around when the shooting happened.

“I’m still very petrified. I only come into town because I need to go to work. If I could, I would just stay at home. I’m just scared that the chaos may erupt again.”

Although she suffered no serious injuries, the woman said her cheek was left swollen and she was also getting severe headaches.

Her employer said it was unacceptable that the perpetrator could get away unpunished.

“It could have been fatal if the bullet didn’t ricochet off something. If she was shot directly in the face she would be dead.

“It is unacceptable that the taxi strike was hijacked by criminal elements that had the guts to shoot people. No one should be shot in the face just because they are trying to get to work,” said the woman’s employer.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said it was a criminal offence to fire a shot in a public area.

“In the worst case scenario, as in this incident, if someone is struck by a bullet it becomes attempted murder. The person found to have fired the shot can be charged. It is a punishable offence.”

Ngobese urged the woman to open a case of attempted murder.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  taxi strike

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