Woman shot dead amid protests against election outcome in Umlazi


Woman shot dead amid protests against election outcome in Umlazi

Residents go on the rampage
March 3, 2006

By Xoliswa Zulu

Umlazi resembled the embattled town of Khutsong yesterday when protesters barricaded roads and set tyres alight in protest against an ANC councillor they believe was imposed on them by the party’s provincial leadership.

About 500 residents in Umlazi’s E Section took to the streets and went on the rampage after hearing that ANC councillor Bhekisisa Elliot Xulu had won the municipal election and would remain councillor of Ward 80 for another five years. He has been a councillor in the area since 1996.

But what was meant to be a peaceful protest ended in tragedy when rubber bullets and teargas were used to disperse the crowd. A 25-year-old woman was killed when she was hit in the stomach and head by a rubber bullet.

Residents claimed that Xulu had rigged the vote on Wednesday, saying he had had a number of ballot papers in his possession which he had been able to distribute to get the majority vote in the area.

But Xulu said he had won fairly.

A strong police contingent arrived on the scene after residents demanded that Xulu step down because of his “empty promises and lack of service delivery”, saying they wanted nothing to do with him.

While emotions ran high, Xulu remained confident that he had done well for his community, and said he would not be councillor if the community did not want him.

“I’ve been a councillor for this ward since 1996 and nothing like this has ever happened before. They are the ones with the problem and their allegations are completely untrue.

“I would never do what they are accusing me of. Their dispute is with the Independent Electoral Commission and I am going to leave their allegations in the hands of the IEC . . . a decision will be taken from there and they will sort it out. As the councillor of this ward, I am here for the community and I am doing the best I can,” he proclaimed.

Police spokesman Bala Naidoo said the situation was under control, but police were keeping an eye on things.

“Members of the community who supported the losing candidate were not happy with the candidate’s (Xulu’s) win.

“They blocked roads and burnt tyres.

“Members from the Umlazi police station and the Area Crime Combating Unit went to the scene and the unit dispersed the crowd with rubber bullets and teargas.

“One woman, about 25 years old, who was throwing stones at the police, was killed.” Naidoo said another man had been shot in the left shoulder and taken to Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in Umlazi.

“As far as is known, there are no other persons who sustained injuries or who were arrested.

“The situation is under control and is being monitored,” Naidoo said.