Two-week-old dies during Durban protest

2017-05-29 16:41
A mortuary van brings in the body of a two week old baby that allegedly died from teargas inhalation. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

A mortuary van brings in the body of a two week old baby that allegedly died from teargas inhalation. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

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Durban – Durban protesters marched on Sydenham Police Station on Monday after claiming a two-week-old baby had died as a result of tear gas inhalation during service delivery protests earlier in the day.

Shack dwellers from the Foreman Road settlement in Clare Estate had initially held the protest because they say they were yet to get feedback from the eThekwini municipality following last week's protests. But following the baby's death, protesters marched to the police station along with the parents and the body of baby Jayden Khoza.

Speaking at the police station, Jayden’s father, Receive Khoza, said the baby was on the bed inside the house with his mother when the protests began earlier on Monday.

He said that police then shot tear gas into the air resulting in a canister of gas landing near his home.

“The baby was playing inside. The mother of the baby walked outside to see what was happening.”

Khoza said the mother had gone back into their home and realised the baby could not breathe.

“They tried to phone the ambulance but they did not come because of the protests," he said, adding that neighbours then picked up the child and went to where the protest was. Khoza said an ambulance was standing nearby.

"The ambulance took the baby inside and said the child was dead,” he said.

Abahlali baseMjondolo spokesperson Thapelo Mohapi said the community protested after failing to get a report-back from the eThekwini municipality after protests last Monday when hundreds of informal settlement residents took to the streets, claiming the municipality had disregarded their rights to dignity. Mohapi said the community felt the municipality had ignored their pleas for housing and electricity.

He said residents were fed up with being ignored by the municipality and were incensed by the "brutality" of the police and death of the baby.

"The police responded by attacking the settlement as a whole with fists‚ batons‚ rubber bullets and tear gas. Many shacks filled up with teargas. Children started crying‚ coughing and vomiting. Residents told the police that they were putting the children in grave danger. However‚ the police continued the attack‚" said Mohapi.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said Sydenham Police was investigating an inquest docket following the baby's death.

“The cause of death is unknown at this stage and a post-mortem will be conducted to determine the cause of death.”

According to Zwane, the protest was illegal.

“The situation is still tense and the police are still at the scene to stabilise the situation. Police always use minimum force when dealing with such illegal and violent protest actions.”

Read more on:    durban  |  protests

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