A 15-year-old boy died after he was shot with a rubber bullet during unrest at Southgate Spar in Pietermaritzburg on Monday morning.
A 14-year old teenager, who cannot be named because she is a minor, told The Witness that she had met the young boy outside Spar in Southgate just a few minutes before he was shot.
She stays in the Westgate area, which is across the road from Southgate Spar, but said the boy stays at the France township, about 5km away from Spar. The incident happened at about 11.30 am.
The girl said she was standing in the parking lot next to the boy who was shot, along with the boy’s eight-year-old brother and other children, as they watched people who were trying to break down the doors that lead into the Spar centre.
“The police came and started shooting rubber bullets. The boy next to me got shot on the chest and his younger brother was shot on the knee.
“Security guards wearing camouflage uniform came and started throwing teargas. We couldn’t breathe. I tried to run but one security guard grabbed me and threw me on the floor.”
The girl said there were about 40 other people who were made to lie down on the ground.
“I was coughing, and my eyes were burning. I tried telling the security guards that the boys were shot but one guard hit me with the big gun on my back,” said the girl.
She said the security guards finally allowed her to get up and go to the boy who had been shot on the chest.
“Before the boy was shot, he told me his name and age. He said he was from Mpumelelo in France and had walked all the way here with his brother and friends. It felt like I knew him already so I wanted to help him.
“He was lying on the ground and I could see the round bullet inside his chest. I tried to take it out but I couldn’t because he was bleeding a lot. Another girl had a bottle of water and we tried making him drink but he wasn’t responding,” she said.
The teenager said the boy died a short while later while waiting for an ambulance.
The girl’s grandfather, who also asked that his name not be published, told The Witness that he was not aware that his granddaughter had wandered off and was at Spar.
“She left while I was taking a bath. I called her when I realised she was not at home and when she answered she was crying but she told me where she was so I rushed there.
“When I got there I saw a tiny body covered up. My heart stopped, I thought it was her. I went to the body and uncovered the face and saw that it was actually a small boy. I looked up and saw my granddaughter at a distance.
“Her hands were covered in blood. She told me that a neighbour had asked her to accompany her to Spar and then her friend was shot.”
The man said the residents were angry about the boy’s death. He said they were referring to the policeman who shot the boy by name.
“The situation is very tense here. The people didn’t break-in to the shops but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time because the police are outnumbered.”
“I am grateful that my daughter is safe despite being traumatised, but I feel sorry for that boy’s family,” he said.
The police have not commented on the boy’s death but national police spokesperson Brenda Muridili, in a statement, said a total six people have been killed since the break-out of violent protests in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
She said on Sunday morning, the police responded to a call from Alexandra Clinic where they found a body with gunshot wounds. Later that day, the body of a security guard with assault wounds was found at Jeppestown. The third body was discovered also on Sunday, in the evening in Dobsonville while the fourth body was discovered with gunshot wounds in Germiston. The cause of death for the security guard and as well as the body found in Dobsonville is part of investigations.
In KwaZulu-Natal there is a report of two people who have been killed, one in Inanda and the second one in Umbilo. The circumstances leading up to their deaths is under investigation.
*This article has been edited to correct the age of the boy who was shot dead. The Witness had initially reported that the boy was 11-years-old, when in fact he was 15.