Patrick Shai calls out police brutality

Actor and activist Patrick Shai is planning to take the police to task after he was shot
11 times with rubber bullets during a protest in Dobsonville, Soweto, yesterday.

Shai - who was hit in the neck, back, leg, and arms - was rushed to Tshepo Themba Private Hospital, also in Dobsonville, for treatment.

He was attempting to intervene during a stand-off between residents and the
police when he was shot.

The residents were protesting against electricity disconnection in the area, which had left them without power since the weekend.

Shai spoke to Sowetan at his home in Dobsonville just after being released from hospital.

"The police said I should lodge a complaint which can be investigated internally, but I am not going to do that. I will go the Ipid [Independent Police Investigative Directorate] route because that is what I think is the right thing," Shai said.

He said he had just came back from a TV interview when he decided to go to the garage at about 9am. After buying some items, he noticed a protest.

"I went to the protesters and asked them not to burn tyres on the road. One of the protesters then tried to throw a burning tyre on the road.

"One cop tried to take the tyre and I said to the guy 'don't do it'. But one of the cops simply said asibaboniseni [let us show them]," said Shai.

'"I told the cop 'you cannot say that'. I told him 'that is not the language you should be talking. We should be finding ways to minimise the potential for violence'."

Shai said the police ran back to their cars, leaving him standing between the cops and the community.

"I realised there was trouble when they pulled out the guns from the cars. I raised my hands and begged them not to shoot, but they kept advancing.

"Instead of engaging me, they fired. I turned around and started running and I got hit.

"I thought of lying on the ground, but then decided against it because they would have finished me off." He said the doctor told him that he was hit 11 times.

Several other residents were also shot with rubber bullets.

"The level of violence in the police is unacceptable. We can't tell communities not to use violence and yet the police use such violence. I stopped the community from burning tyres on Saturday and they understood," said Shai.

"South Africa should not find justification for police brutality. We saw it with Andries Tatane. It was unwarranted. It cannot be that South Africa responds to its citizens with such violence," he said.

Residents of Mmesi Park in Dobsonville have been protesting after their electricity was disconnected on Friday by people believed to be from Eskom.

Brig Mathapelo Peters said cops were called to the areas after the protest began. She did not respond to questions about alleged police brutality.

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