Journo shot during TUT protest

tut_violence12022009 Pretoria News Chaos: Police officers open fire to disperse protesting students at the Tshwane University of Technology. Photo: Etienne Creux, Pretoria News

By Lesego Masemola

Pretoria News reporter, Mogomotsi Magome, was on Wednesday shot three times with rubber bullets as he was covering student protests which turned violent at the Tshwane University of Technology.

"I wasn't supposed to be making the news," he said as he lay on a stretcher at the Eugene Marais Hospital's emergency room.

Waiting to be X-rayed all Magome could say was "yoh, yoh, yoh" in pain when asked how he felt after he was hit by rubber bullets fired by police in an attempt to disperse the unruly crowd.

He was injured under his arm, with two grazes on his rib cage, two wounds on the lower back and a graze on his left ear.

He also sustained a wound on the side of his stomach.

Describing Wednesday's events he said he was standing next to the crowd when someone in the crowd threw a projectile towards the police who had cordoned off the entrance to TUT's Pretoria campus.

"Then all hell broke loose. I asked myself what was happening as I hit the ground. At first I was hit on the head and then on the back and on the side. I put my hand up waving my note pad in the air so that police could see I was a reporter," he said.

Magome said as the crowd ran from the police, a police officer stood over him.

The police officer called a female colleague and she took down his details.

"The next thing I knew I was surrounded by cameras. It felt really awkward. I asked someone from Radio Jacaranda to inform photographer Etienne Creux about what had happened," he said.

Smiling briefly, Magome said he remembered Creux saying he did not expect him to smile.

"Etienne was taking pictures of me and he said 'Mogomotsi I don't expect you to smile' and of course I did," he said.

Reacting to the incident, Pretoria News editor, Zingisa Mkhuma, said: "We condemn the apparent heavy-handedness of the police at TUT which resulted in Mogomotsi Magome sustaining serious rubber bullet wounds to his head and body.

"When we sent Magome out to cover the TUT story, we did not expect that things would become that violent, which just goes to show how vulnerable journalists have become.

"Also, one has to wonder why police would aim for the head when the idea is to quell a disturbance and not to kill," she said.

Mkhuma said the police had to launch a full inquiry into what led to Magome's shooting yesterday and until then, "we will put the blame squarely at their door".

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