Police shoot at protesters

Sne Masuku

Two pregnant women and six other people were injured when police fired rubber bullets at protesting residents of Siyanda informal settlement, near KwaMashu, yesterday.

The women were part of a group of about 150 protesters who were protesting against the small double-storey houses that are being built for them near the neighbouring township of Newlands East.

Residents of Siyanda are being moved to give way for the construction of a new road, but are not happy with the size and quality of their newly built houses.

Phumelele Ntsele, who is four months pregnant, was hit behind the head when police fired rubber bullets.

The police fired after they ordered the group, which had converged on Inanda Road, to disperse. But the group moved to the pavement instead and continued with their protests.

Ntsele said she realised she was shot after she felt dizzy and saw blood on her face.

"I fell down. Two policemen kicked me so hard that my baby has not moved since," she said.

While Ntsele was rushed to the clinic, other injured people were loaded in a police van and taken to the police station.

With a rubber bullet still lodged in her head, Ntsele was first treated at the Polyclinic and transferred to King Edward Hospital in Umlazi.

Eight months pregnant Zethu Malimela's waters broke when a policeman allegedly kicked her in her stomach. She was also rushed to the Polyclinic.

Thandi Ntabeni said she was sitting in her house when a man came running into her house while chased by police.

"When I refused to let them in they fired rubber bullets through the window," said Ntabeni.

Her 17-year-old daughter, who was inside the house, sustained a minor injury.

When Sowetan arrived at the scene there were spent rubber bullets all over the area.

Police spokesman Gugu Sabela said the police were forced to end the protest because it was illegal.

"All I know is that those people were given 10 minutes to disperse before the police could shoot. The police had no option but to fire rubber bullets," said Sabela.

She said police arrested three protesters, two of whom are being treated and are under police guard at the hospital.