NEWS | CAPE TOWN 

Teenager shot with rubber bullet after land occupation

13-year-old shot in knee as residents’ shacks demolished

Photo of injured child
Sihle Simayile was shot with a rubber bullet when police dispersed Philippi residents on private land. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

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A 13-year-old girl was shot in the knee with a rubber bullet and a man was injured in the head on 4 January when police dispersed Philippi residents who had occupied private land.

Sihle Simayile was shot while looking after her aunt’s shack. Her aunt was at work.

Xolani Sobekete, who was treated at Gugulethu clinic for head injuries from rubber bullets, told GroundUp he had laid a complaint at Philippi East Police Station.

About 100 residents had occupied land owned by Oasis Crescent Property Company. The Western Cape High Court granted an interim order against the occupation of the land on 4 January. The residents have until 15 February to oppose the order.

GroundUp spoke to Simayile at her mother’s house in Philippi. Simayile, who goes into Grade Seven at Sikelele Primary School this year, was hospitalised for three days at Mitchells Plain Hospital after the rubber bullet went through her right leg. She is likely to miss school when it opens next week.

Community leaders Vuyani Mathenga and Thembalethu Njanjana told GroundUp the land was unfenced and had been unoccupied for more than 20 years. Njanjana said the owners had told the community they wanted to build a chemical factory on the land.

Residents marched to Philippi police station on 6 January to protest against the shooting.

Njanjana also complained about law enforcement officers who had demolished shacks on the land and taken blankets. Since then residents have been sleeping outside with their children.

Njanjana said residents intended to oppose the order and were looking for lawyers to represent them.

Mathenga said he had been on a housing list since 2009. “I am unemployed. My two children and wife are tired of moving up and down. I have lost my pride and I feel like I failed my family,” said Mathenga.

Sandiswa Mauyakanyaka, whose shack was demolished, said before moving to the land she had paid R400 to rent a shack. “I am single and have two children. I live on the children’s social grants and R600 monthly allowance from the children’s father. The money is not enough to see me through to month end if I need to pay rent, electricity and buy food.”

Oasis group spokesperson Nazeem Ebrahim did not answer his phone or return GroundUp’s calls.

The City of Cape Town had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Topics:  Housing

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