'The teargas killed my baby'

Mother claims tear gas fumes killed her infant daughter.
Mother claims tear gas fumes killed her infant daughter.
Image: 123RF/ Pumidol Leelerdsakulvong

Anathando Kapiyali was two weeks old when she tasted teargas for the first time. It was also the last thing she would ever taste after her lungs collapsed in Zwelihle clinic in Hermanus last Saturday‚ her mom told Times Select.

Community leaders claim she is not the only one who died from inhaling teargas in protests that have hit the Western Cape tourist attraction‚ about 100km south of Cape Town‚ over the past three weeks.

Police however insist that no deaths have been reported since violence broke out over a fence that was erected between Zwelihle township and its more affluent‚ mostly white‚ neighbours. Brigadier Donovan Heilbron said no deaths had been reported.

Township residents say they were told by municipal officials the fence was meant for “greening” and there was a longer-term plan for a park to be built. But protesters say they are convinced the fence was erected to create a barrier between them and their neighbours.

In the past few weeks constant street battles have been waged between residents and police members. The situation escalated when protesters attacked riot police‚ stole three firearms and attacked a police officer with an axe‚ leaving him in a critical condition.

But residents say they were angry over “police brutality” and “racism”. Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the area again on Tuesday after being dismissed by residents last week. He would not be drawn into commenting on several allegations of police brutality.

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