Western Cape - A 25-year-old Lesotho man has died after being shot in the head by a rubber bullet in De Doorns on Monday, allegedly at point-blank range.
Letsekang Thokoane, a spaza shop assistant from Elubisi informal settlement outside the Boland town, died in Tygerberg Hospital after being beaten and shot at.
His younger brother, Atang Thokoane, 20, went to the state mortuary in Cape Town on Tuesday to identify the body.
He said: “He was my older brother, and the only family that I had here outside Lesotho. It was terrible.”
His employer, Sekola Mathetse, said he was told by nurses at the hospital that a rubber bullet was removed from his skull shortly before he died.
On Tuesday, Mathetse took the Cape Argus to the Asla construction site – the company is building formal houses in Elubisi – where he had found an injured Thokoane.
The unfinished structure in which Thokoane had been hiding had blood splattered across its floor.
Mathetse said: “We do not understand why he was killed because he is not a farmworker and was working all this time. He only left my shop on Monday because police told him to close.
“When I picked him up, he was lying in a drain some way out of town. He had a bad wound on his forehead. He had been hit on his body many times and there were rubber bullet scars, too.”
Mathetse said Thokoane was barely conscious and had to be carried. “We put him in my bakkie and I took him to hospital in Worcester.”
Nurses later phoned Mathetse and told him a rubber bullet had been removed from Thokoane’s skull, and that he had been transferred to Tygerberg Hospital.
Mathetse made a statement to the Independent Police Investigative Unit (Ipid).
Thokoane’s death has been confirmed by police and the province’s Department of Health.
The death comes after a week of raids by police in the Elubisi and Stofland informal settlements.
Earlier in the day, the Cape Argus visited Donald Moteoli who had just returned home to Stofland after four days in Worcester Hospital.
He had a bandage around his abdomen and could not walk.
Moteoli said that at 3am last Thursday two policemen had kicked down his door, and when he jumped out of bed they shot him in his stomach.
“Then they laughed at me and left,” he said.
Monwabisi Kondile, a shop steward with the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) in De Doorns, said: “On Monday evening, many people walked into the mountain and slept there because they are afraid of the police at night.”
Kondile condemned all violence and said police and strikers needed to reconcile so that the strike could proceed peacefully.
At a meeting in Stofland sports field with striking workers on Tuesday, Building and Allied Workers Union (Bawusa) general secretary Nosey Pieterse said the ANC’s call for the strike to be suspended would not be heeded.
“On what basis can I tell you to go back to work, when you have nothing to show for it?” he asked.
After a moment’s silence was observed for Thokoane, Pieterse said that his death should not be in vain.
Referring to Marikana, where 44 people died, he said “victory” had been achieved in the form of a negotiated wage settlement.
Referring to Thokoane’s death, Sandile Keni, an organiser for Fawu, said: “We are drafting a memorandum and organising for a peaceful march to the De Doorns police station to protest against brutality.”
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk did not respond to queries about the exact circumstances surrounding Thokoane’s death, confirming only that he “died due to injuries sustained during a shooting incident”.
“Ipid will investigate the matter further.”