SA’s killing fields

The Star

Johannesburg -

The latest victim of a police bullet – a Durban Deep resident – died in his friends’ arms as they rushed him to hospital.

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Protesters from Durban Deep, Roodepoort, burn tires and closed down the streets complaining about evictions and a member of the community being shot by a police officer.  
Picture:Motlabana Monnakgotla254
Tshepo Babuseng, an unemployed resident of Durban Deep who was shot, and died on his way to hospital in the the early morning.
Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

Tshepo Babuseng, 29, was one of several hundred residents who gathered on Randfontein Road in Roodepoort yesterday morning to protest against the impending eviction from their homes.

Segomotsi Bogosi, who tried to save Babuseng by taking him to hospital, couldn’t stop crying the whole day.

Her husband, Johnson Loabile, said Babuseng had been like a brother to her and described him as a quiet and kind man.

Babuseng’s aunt, Joyce Moamogwa, was indignant over his death. “The police are going to follow Tshepo to the grave.

“They killed him like a dog. They can’t chase criminals, but they kill protesters.”

The protest was one of two violent demonstrations in the Joburg area yesterday over evictions.

SAPS spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale said police had been trying to remove residents from the road around 6am when a warrant officer came driving along in an unmarked vehicle.

Protesters allegedly started shaking his vehicle and he fired four warning shots. One of them hit Babuseng.

A case of public violence has been opened and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) will investigate the shooting.

Mogale said rubber bullets were used to disperse the crowd and that 15 people were arrested.

Durban Deep residents were protesting against eviction notices ordering them to be out of their houses by the end of the month.

They are renting former mine houses that have changed ownership from DRD Gold to property company Dino Properties.

It is estimated that about 3 000 people are occupying about 250 houses on the property.

Some, like Beauty Khumalo, who has a large stack of rent bills she has paid over the years, say they have been living on the property since 1996.

Resident Louis Maseko said: “Our fathers were working here on the mines and they were promised that these houses would be free.”

Residents claim that Dino Properties said they would be refurbishing the houses, but would arrange for them to rent houses elsewhere during the renovations.

Dino Properties’ legal representative, Greg Vermaak, said the residents had known for more than a year they would be evicted. They had received an eviction notice for non-payment of rent in August.

He said the property would be developed into mixed-income housing similar to Cosmo City.

SA Human Rights Commission spokesman Isaac Mangena said it would not be investigating Babuseng’s death as it believed a probe separate to Ipid’s wouldn’t be necessary – unless it wasn’t satisfied with the findings.

Across town in Alexandra, an 11th-hour negotiation session narrowly averted a clash between residents and police over mass evictions.

A group of about 100 residents protested on 1st Avenue and blocked the road with burning tyres, rocks and bricks in anticipation of the eviction they said they were informed about last month.

They were unhappy that they had not been presented with a court order permitting police to legally evict them from two plots of land where they have set up shacks around abandoned industrial buildings.

The protest was calm, but threatened to boil over when an eviction team from the sheriff of the court arrived around 9.30am, protected by heavily armed police officers.

Shortly afterwards, negotiations took place between the protest leaders and a shareholder of the properties, Refilwe Khunou. Further meetings have been promised.

“Until such time, no eviction will take place,” said one of the negotiators, Oupa Sako, a community leader and Economic Freedom Fighters sub-region co-ordinator.

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