Public order police in Harbour Road in Hout Bay, where hundreds of Hangberg residents protested over fishing permits, quota allocations and housing. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA
Cape Town - Phumeza Dubula, 34, has welcomed the charges of attempted murder brought against police officers who shot her 14-year-old son in the mouth
with a rubber bullet during the Hout Bay protests this week.

Protests erupted in Hout Bay when small-scale fishers were unhappy regarding the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ proposed total allowable catch reduction for the West Coast rock lobster.

Residents joined the fishermen, aligning their struggle with ongoing housing and service delivery issues. They set benches on fire and used flares and petrol bombs, resulting in public order police being deployed.

Dubula said she had been unable to leave her son Ona’s side while he recovered in Groote Schuur Hospital after undergoing surgery to remove a rubber bullet from his mouth.

“I've not eaten for three days as my child is unable to eat. I could have lost my son and it's right that they (police officers) face attempted murder charges," said Dubula.

“I gave a statement to police officers who said they would be investigating the matter.”

She said doctors were still attending to Ona and she was waiting to find out the severity of the damage to her son’s tongue.

A video has gone viral of police officers firing on Ona and two women residents from Hangberg as they hid behind a wooden bench.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesperson Moses Dlamini said: “We have opened a case of attempted murder and our officials will study the footage and investigate the conduct of the officers during the incident.

“I cannot speculate on the severity of the injury. Only an expert can do that and we will await the report from our investigators.”

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said a case of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm had been registered for investigation on behalf of the family.

The situation in Hout Bay remained tense after a planned meeting with City, provincial and department officials was cancelled. Hangberg Peace and Mediation Forum’s Greg Louw said they were told that not all the ministers or their deputies were available on Thursday, further angering the community.

Protesters set fire to debris and clashed again with police near Harbour Road, setting fire to a digger loader with petrol bombs.

City Law Enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason said flares were fired at police and the road to Hangberg was blocked off, but no injuries were reported.

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Cape Times