Siyanda residents wounded by police rubber bullets during road blockade, 4 December 2006

Pictures by David Ntseng

The police action was extraordinarily brutal. One man was shot 8 times, at point blank range, in his home with rubber bullets. Once again live ammunition was also used. All of the 5 people arrested have serious wounds. One is a mentally ill man who was just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Mercury Report on the Police Action Against the Siyanda Road Blockade

Protesters hurt as police fire rubber bullets

By Carvin Goldstone 5 December 2006

SEVERAL people were wounded yesterday when police opened fire with rubber bullets on protesters from the Siyanda informal settlement, near Newlands, in Durban.

The group of about 500 people had barricaded Inanda Road in protest against construction of the new MR577 road which would necessitate the destruction of their homes. The road will connect Newlands to Pinetown. About 10 people were wounded by rubber bullets.

Those who had sustained serious injuries in clashes with police were apparently taken to King Edward VIII Hospital. However, residents claimed that many injured people were either being held untreated at the KwaMashu Police Station or remained injured at the scene.

When The Mercury arrived at the scene of the clash, three people with rubber bullet wounds were still at the scene and had received no medical attention.

Dumisani Ndlovu was struck by rubber bullets on his hand and on his lower back.

I was talking to a policeman when he pushed me with the gun and when I fell he shot me, he said.

Teenager Nosipho Sibiya s left buttock was swollen and bleeding after she had also been shot by police but, like Ndlovu, had received no medical attention

Nosipho said she and many others had not been involved in the protest, but had been shot because police had entered the settlement looking for protesters.

I was at home and ran out to find my younger brother when a policeman shot me.

Gladys Ndlovu, who escaped unscathed, said she and others had refused to move when asked to because they wanted someone to listen to their complaints. She said the police had hovered with a helicopter over the crowd to frighten people, but they had still refused to move.

The police told us that the march was not permitted and then started to shoot, but no one fought back. We were waiting for someone to hear our complaints. Those who ran were shot by police and some police followed people into the settlement and shot them.

No one returned fire. They dragged some of us, even a crippled man was dragged.

Ndlovu, who has lived in Siyanda for 15 years, said she wanted the house she had been promised but was now being offered hostel type accommodation near the settlement.

Others were being relocated to newly built houses at nearby Ntuzuma but were feeling threatened because people living in informal settlements in Ntuzuma were demanding those houses.

Police spokeswoman Gugu Sabela said the protest was illegal and police had asked the people to disperse, but they had refused. She denied that police were holding injured people.

Those injured had been taken to a clinic and five people had been arrested. She said it was possible that police would have been unaware of other injured people who remained untreated at the scene.