Pregnant EL woman hit by police rubber bullets

A heavily pregnant East London woman was rushed to hospital on Monday night after being struck by rubber bullets, allegedly fired by police dispersing a mob in Scenery Park.

Two stray rubber bullets hit Nokwanda Manana, 38, who is 36 weeks pregnant, on the hip and chest when police opened fire on a crowd which had apprehended a man accused of stealing plasma television sets.

Manana’s boyfriend Lonwabo Lwangayi, father of her the unborn child, said the crowd had gathered outside their house at about 9.30pm.  

“When I heard the noise, I stepped out and learnt that some community members were dealing with a man who was accused of stealing TVs in the area,” he said.

“I appealed the crowd to take the mob justice elsewhere because if anything bad happened it would affect my family and me. That didn't happen and police arrived on the scene. When they arrived they fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd which had become violent,” said Lwangayi.

Both Manana and his cousin were caught in the crossfire, he said.

“My cousin was also shot while trying to protect Nokwanda. There are no street lights so everything was dark. I tried my best to take a picture of the police van’s registration number but in the chaos I couldn’t see properly. The police were rude and unresponsive when I told them they had shot my girlfriend in her home,” he said.

Lwangayi said one female police officer who was at the scene said to Manana: “B**ch, why don’t you call an ambulance?”

He said that response had left them “shocked, confused and disappointed”. 

Lwangayi rushed Manana to Frere Hospital’s maternity ward at about 10.30pm. Manana was treated by doctors who said the child’s heartbeat was still strong and confirmed that the baby would be fine, he said.

However, his girlfriend was still traumatised by the events, he said.

Lwangayi has since opened a case with the Scenery Park phase one police station who he said had escalated the matter to the Independent Police Investigation Directorate (Ipid). 

Ipid spokesperson Sontaga Seisa said: “Ipid doesn’t have this matter. Police have not yet reported the discharge of a firearm to us.” 

DispatchLIVE has covered a number of cases where police have used live ammunition to disperse crowds.

It is by no means the first time people have been caught in the crossfire.

In February last year, a reverend’s wife, Nomsa Richards, was shot in the leg during a community protest against a ward councillor in Bathurst near Port Alfred.

gugup@dispatch.co.za 


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