Hospital confirms Philippi protester had bullet wound

Daneel Knoetze
Shack dwellers and police confronted each other in Philippi on 22 August. Photo by Daneel Knoetze.
Daneel Knoetze

Tygerberg Hospital has confirmed that a man injured during clashes with Public Order Police in Philippi East on 22 August had sustained a bullet wound to his right leg.

On Friday, 22 August, GroundUp reported that police had used live ammunition against shackdwellers resisting eviction from Rolihlahla Park, a newly formed informal settlement off Sheffield Road.

The claim was based on eyewitness accounts, video footage (see below) of riot police firing service pistols during the clashes, and an interview with Patrick Sobutyu, the 31-year-old man who was rushed to hospital after sustaining a gunshot wound to his thigh. The paramedic who treated Sobutyu said that his wounds were the result of a gunshot. This was then confirmed by Tygerberg Hospital spokeswoman Laticia Pienaar on Sunday.

On Saturday, the Weekend Argus reported that the police “adamantly denied” live ammunition was used.

On Sunday, GroundUp sent a follow-up query. The query included the video clip taken at Rolihlahla Park during the evictions showing two police officers discharging their sidearms. GroundUp asked the police to confirm whether service pistols of the type used contained live ammunition, whether the discharge of live ammunition needed to be reported and whether any such reports were received from officers enforcing Friday’s evictions.

Today, police no longer “adamantly deny” that live rounds were fired. Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk responded to our query by acknowledging receipt of the video and saying that the police would “conduct an internal investigation into the allegations.”

Meanwhile, GroundUp contacted Sobutyu who has been discharged from Tygerberg. He said that he was still bed-ridden, but doing “much better”. He did not return to his shack in Philippi East and spoke to GroundUp from a backyard dwelling in Delft which he had rented at R400 a month before the move to Rolihlahla Park two and a half weeks ago.

“I am not in so much pain anymore, but it will be a while before I can walk again,” he said.

“It worries me, because I cannot work [as a taxi driver] and my family will not have an income until I am better. Also, I do not know what has happened to my shack and my possessions, because I do not have the strength to return to Rolihlahla Park to check.”

22 August 2014 Eviction at Marikana from Pablo Pinedo Bóveda on Vimeo. The video is slowed down at the point where two police officers are seen firing their pistols.

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TOPICS:  Human Rights Violence

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