Police brutality can't be justified, says actor Patrick Shai after being shot 11 times
Johannsburg - Actor Patrick Shai said police brutality cannot be justified in South Africa after he was shot several times during a protest in Dobsonville, Soweto.
The 7de Laan actor was shot 11 times with rubber bullets on Monday after he tried to intervene between the enraged community and the police.
Soweto has seen multiple protests recently over electricity blackouts following reports that it owed the power utility more than R18billion in unpaid bills. The community has not had electricity since Friday.
Shai, who lives in the area but was not affected by the power cuts, told The Star that he went to the filling station to buy bread and a newspaper where the protest was taking place.
“I went there as a senior citizen and I tried to calm the situation down, and discourage members of the community from burning additional tyres,” he said. Shai said the situation between the community and the police was tense, and he heard one of the police officers saying they would “show them”.
The actor said he urged the police not to fetch their rubber bullet guns.
“They started advancing and I was standing right there between the cops and the community pleading with the cops with my hands up to say ‘Please don’t.’” The actor was rushed to Tshepo Themba Private Hospital after sustaining rubber bullet wounds to his back.
Gauteng provincial police spokesperson Mathapelo Peters said the police used rubber bullets to disperse a group of about 200 protesters.
According to Peters, the protesters pelted the police while the Johannesburg Metro Police Department were clearing debris on the barricaded Elias Motsoaledi Road. The actor, however, claimed that the crowd was not violent. “If the community was throwing stones, I would have been the first one to be hit because I was standing between the community and the police.”
Shai complained about the conduct of the Public Order Police unit, saying that the apartheid riot police would give protesters a three-minute warning before they shot. The actor said he was not justifying service delivery protests, but the police could not harm people who tried to defuse the situation.
Shai said he would be lodging a complaint with the Minister of Police General Bheki Cele, Gauteng Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.