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Pretoria - A group of homeless people from Mamelodi are angry after two of their numbers were shot with rubber bullets by Tshwane metro police.
The people say they were trying to find out why the council allocated land to the people of Phomolong while they were denied land.
The homeless people said they applied for the land in Eesterfabrieke several times over more than nine months, but their application was rejected and they were told that the land will be developed for low-cost houses. It is said that they were told that shacks were not allowed.
But the people said they were surprised two weeks ago when the municipality moved the residents of Phomolong to the land after a burst water pipe killed two children.
“We felt like our rights are not respected after all the applications for the land. We then decided to protest peacefully by blocking the trucks that were bringing Phomolong residents to Eesterfabrieke,” said one of the homeless people.
The protesters allege that they stopped their action when the police arrived. They claim that police driving an unmarked Nissan Navara blocked their way. Phillemon Themba said the officers then started insulting them.
“They said we should go home and take a bath because we smell,” he said. Then Elizabeth Moloyi is alleged to have told the officers to bath her. “They then fired a warning shot in the air and then shot me on the hand. As I fell on the ground, they came and started kicking me.”
Themba said one officer told him: “I have been looking for you,” before shooting him in the arm. “I then tried to run away.”
Themba sustained a broken arm as a result of being shot at close range. “We were very peaceful, they are the ones who wanted violence. They just wanted to shoot us. We did not even have weapons or stones,” said Themba.
While the assault was taking place, a man was taking pictures from the other side of the fence when he was spotted by the officers. Themba said the officers made the man jump the palisade fence and threatened to shoot him if they could not delete his pictures.
The injured pair said the officers did not even have the decency to take them to hospital to receive treatment for their injuries, but they were assisted by a Mamelodi Day Hospital security guard.
Council spokeswoman, Nomasonto Ndlovu said the council did not abuse or violate the rights of any persons by rejecting their application to use its land.
Their application was rejected “after all relevant factors were taken into consideration”.
Ndlovu added that the land in question was earmarked for a low-cost housing development and the people who were relocated from Phomolong were on the list of beneficiaries. “We therefore encourage the homeless complainants to apply so that they can be put on a waiting list for those who are in need of low-cost houses,” said Ndlovu.
Tshwane metro police spokesman, Console Tleane did not respond to questions sent to him regarding the incident.