WATCH: Khayelitsha residents may lay charge over tear gas allegedly fired into home

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Apr 17, 2020

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Cape Town – Evicted Empolweni informal settlement residents in Khayelitsha are yet to lay a charge over a tear gas canister that was allegedly fired indiscriminately into their community.

They are first awaiting the conclusion of the case against the City of Cape Town over the recent evictions, which have been deemed “unlawful and unconstitutional” by human rights organisations.

The case was meant to be heard yesterday but the City was accused of using “delay tactics” while “people are sleeping outside in the rain after a long week of being rendered homeless”, said human rights organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi. It was hoped that the case would be heard today.

Axolile Notywala, of the Social Justice Coalition, posted a video on Twitter earlier this week of a tear gas canister allegedly being fired from around 100m away by a SAPS officer into the Empolweni settlement.

The caption to the post said: "Okay this is really f***** up. Police are trigger happy. @CityofCT demolished homes again, people stood & watched. 

"A @SAPoliceService just had to shoot into someone's house. For absolutely no reason. Then they cheer: “Hole in one”. There was a child in that house" 

He posted another video of a home subsequently filled with tear gas, with the caption: "Look at the teargas smoke in the house. In someone’s home. Why? Is this not attempted murder? I have a video of the child struggling to breathe. He seems okay now."

Notywala told the Cape Times on Friday: “No complaint has been laid yet. There are some community members we are assisting who intend opening a case. I intend opening a case myself.

“We are meeting with the community as soon as the court case is done to see what action should be taken. It was SAPS who fired into the settlement."

Commenting on the actions of Law Enforcement officers at the weekend, he said: “Law Enforcement also shot rubber bullets into the community. This has not only happened during the lockdown but also during other evictions.

“Those people are sleeping outside now. They are not being taken care of and there is no talk of alternative accommodation.

“The City’s standard response over whether they aren’t increasing the risk of residents contracting Covid-19 is that they are just trying to stop a land invasion." 

Ndifuna Ukwazi said: "The community is forced to survive off donations as all their food and possessions were destroyed. What we are trying to do is to get donations of tents for the people until the matter is heard."

Mayco member for human settlements Malusi Booi said the matter was postponed to allow the City the opportunity to respond to affidavits, which he charged were contrary to the rules of court.

“In general, it must be noted, this is not an eviction. The City acts within the parameters of the existing court order to prevent further illegal occupation of the land in question." 

Empolweni resident Ntembeko Moyeni said: “It is sad what has happened here. Our homes were demolished, our furniture has been damaged. We are not worried about the coronavirus any more, we are worried about the cold."

Khayelitsha Development Forum chairperson Ndithini Tyhido said: “The City has purposely decided to rubbish the national lockdown regulations and violated the rights of the people of Empolweni. 

"Without any just reason, the City has demolished people’s shacks and made them vulnerable to the coronavirus.”

Incidents of abuse by the SAPS, the SANDF or Law Enforcement officers can be reported to the DA's WhatsApp line on 067 977 9324 or e-mailing [email protected]

Cape Times

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