Protesters claim police shot them in the back

Andile Ngaba was one of 18 protesters who were allegedly shot by the police on Sunday. Scores of residents from the ward were protesting outside the NU7 community hall as ANC provincial and regional leaders visited the ward to address ANC supporters about the ongoing impasse in the ward.
Andile Ngaba was one of 18 protesters who were allegedly shot by the police on Sunday. Scores of residents from the ward were protesting outside the NU7 community hall as ANC provincial and regional leaders visited the ward to address ANC supporters about the ongoing impasse in the ward.
Image: Mamela Ndamase

At least 18 residents were injured on Sunday when East London police fired rubber bullets at scores of protesters as provincial ANC leaders visited Mdantsane’s troubled ward 20.

ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) members Loyiso Magqashela and Xolile Nqatha attended a meeting to respond to grievances of some residents opposing ward councillor Ntombizodwa Gamnca. However, they were met with burning tyres at the NU7 community hall at 12pm.

The protesters told the Dispatch on Monday they were fed up with “factional leaders” who only responded when called by the group of residents who did not want Gamnca in office.

Injured resident Lynette Nkohla said: “We protested because we wanted our leadership to hear our pleas first, as we have been writing to them with no luck.

“The police came with three taxis and two vans and asked for two delegates from us. I was one of the delegates and they asked us to tell our people to stop the protest. As we were turning to talk to the residents, we just heard shots being fired at us before we even addressed the residents.

“We ran for our lives, but even that did not help. The police chased after us, injuring so many of us from behind.

“We were rushed to Cecilia Makiwane Hospital where we received treatment. We are still traumatised by the events and we can’t believe that after dedicating so much of our time and energy to the ANC, this is the thank you we receive. They must tell us if they no longer need us as volunteers.”

Asked if they were defenders of the suspended Gamnca, resident Ludumo Maqubela said: “We are not her supporters. We are fighting for our rights as residents of this municipality. This ongoing fight between Gamnca and the proportional representative councillor, Mkuseli Nombewu, must not affect us and service delivery.

“We have not been able to use the municipal office for months now. Service delivery is standing still while other wards are progressing but not us.”

The PEC visit came after the BCM council took a decision on Friday that Gamnca should be investigated for fraud and corruption allegations made against her by residents.

They claim she illegally sold them houses in her ward and failed to deliver the houses or title deeds.

Magqashela said it was not true that the protesters had written a letter to the provincial leadership, but they had copied the provincial secretary on a letter addressed to the WB Rubusana regional secretary, Antonio Carels.

He said: “We addressed the residents on a few matters and said the council speaker and chief whip must ensure that they open the office.

“Our decision to suspend Gamnca still stands, and the municipality will carry out its own investigation. We said if councillor Ncedo Kumbaca goes back as a caretaker ward councillor, there must be maximum security in the office.”

However, the protesters threatened to burn the office down if Kumbaca was brought back as caretaker councillor.

BCM council speaker Alfred Mtsi said following Sunday’s meeting he was yet to meet council chief whip Mawethu Marata to decide who would be placed in NU7 as a caretaker ward councillor.

Police spokesperson Captain Nkosikho Mzuku confirmed that protesters had opened assault cases against the police at Mdantsane police station.

Mzuku confirmed that the protesters barricaded the road with burning tyres at NU7.

He said no arrests had been made.

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