South Africa

De Doorns protests claim first life

By Kate Stegeman 15 January 2013

After a week of mayhem and violent protests in De Doorns that has seen tyre burning and stone throwing protesters pitted against police armed with rubber bullets, tear gas and water canons, the Daily Maverick can now confirm the first fatality in this round of strike action. By KATE STEGEMAN.

Cape Winelands Department of Health Communications Officer Joanne Otto has confirmed that a De Doorns resident caught up in the strike action has died as a result of rubber bullet injuries.

Local community leader and farmworker, Saun Yanta identified the name of the man to the Daily Maverick as 24-year old Letsekang Tokhwane. He said the victim’s family had been informed of his death.

Otto says, “After being admitted to the Worcester hospital the male patient was referred to the Tygerberg hospital where he died late last night.”

Yanta insists that Tokhwanewas not involved in the strike and alleges that he was pulled out of his house in Stofland early yesterday morning.  According to Yanta, “There were three police, all white guys, who ordered him outside and then shot him a close range. The whole community saw him shot.”

“Then were ten nyalas inside the location and after they shot Tokhwane police randomly started shooting others. Then the police started to pick people out from the crowd and arrest them,” says Yanta.

“People are badly injured but they are too afraid to go to the hospital because they are afraid of being arrested”.

The Daily Maverick attempted to contact SAPS Western Cape to give them a right of reply. Despite the urgency of our request, SAPS requested that questions be emailed though to their media office.  Daily Maverick is still waiting for a reply from SAPS.

The confirmation of this death comes hot on the heels of a report that an eight-year old boy was also shot by a rubber bullet in De Doorns yesterday. All three clinics in the area were closed in what Otto described as a result of “strikers intimidating health care-officials”, the patient also had to be transported to the nearby Worcester hospital

Otto has confirmed that the young boy has been treated for his injuries and has been discharged into the care of his mother. DM

Photo: De Doorns protest on 9th January 2012. (Kate Stegeman)

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However, it would be an offensive oversight not to acknowledge that right there on the front lines, alongside whistleblowers and civil society, stand the journalists. Armed with only their determination to inform society and defend the truth, caught in the crossfire of shots fired from both sides.

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