Toothless and injured: Phoenix residents stand-off with police during water protest

Around two dozen Phoenix residents protesting against the water outages in the area were treated for moderate injuries after a stand-off with police on Monday. Picture: Supplied

Around two dozen Phoenix residents protesting against the water outages in the area were treated for moderate injuries after a stand-off with police on Monday. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 30, 2024


About two dozen Phoenix residents were treated for moderate to minor injuries after a stand-off with members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Durban Metro Police on Monday morning during the water protest.

The protest was put together by the Voice of Phoenix, a civic movement that says it is tired with the level of service delivery in the eThekwini Municipality township.

What was intended to be a peaceful protest took a slight detour and resulted in injuries.

Protesters stood at six major intersections across Phoenix, blocking off motorways, with police on the opposite side of them.

IOL spoke to private medical emergency teams that worked on the ground for no fee, as they too were affected by the water outages in northern eThekwini areas like Ottawa, Verulam, oThoganthi, Blackburn, Zwelisha and Inanda.

Sanjay Patel from First Life Medical, from Ottawa, said his area has experienced water outages for more than eight months.

Patel and his team treated 15 patients on Monday, with most of them sustaining rubber-bullet gunshot wounds.

Protesters were also treated for inhalation and exposure to teargas.

There were no deaths, despite false social media reports claiming that a woman had died from her injuries.

“It was kind of hectic yesterday, but I am glad that everyone is safe. We treated a total of 15 patients.

“Seven were treated for respiratory problems after they came into contact with the teargas. This was at the Phoenix Highway and Trade Centre robots.

“Further up the highway at the Eastbury robots, that's where the rubber bullets were fired.

“One person was treated for a bad bullet wound to the face. Another guy was shot in the leg and you could see the bone. It was not broken, but exposed.

“Two minors were also treated, one male and one female, both for rubber bullet wounds,” Patel said.

According to KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson for the South African Police Service, Lieutenant Colonel Nqobile Gwala, four people were arrested.

Gwala said a minimum use of force was required.

“Three suspects aged between 24, 26 and 50 were arrested for public violence. A 50-year-old man was also charged for unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

“Minimum use of force had to be used after the crowd became violent. They were throwing stones and bricks at the police,” Gwala said.

Durban Metro Police Boysie Zungo told IOL that officers were deployed to Phoenix on Tuesday as well.

Gareth Naidoo from KZN VIP, another private medical emergency services company, said they treated two patients for minor injuries.

Another protester, Shane Veeran, was seen on eNCA talking about how the police knocked his front tooth out with a riot shield.

Veeran told the reporter they were conducting a peaceful protest and the police knocked his tooth out.

Other protesters on the ground appeared to be in a state of extreme frustration and anger.

The eThekwini Municipality, together with the Department of Water and Sanitation and uMngeni-uThukela Water have communicated a plan on addressing the issues affecting the northern water supply.

Authorities cited an increased demand and frail infrastructure as some of major reasons for water outages in the metro.