GIRL SHOT DEAD DURING CATO MANOR PROTESTS
By: Takudzwa Makoni
Police were allegedly attacked by an angry mob of Cato Manor residents early on Monday resulting in the death of a 17-year-old girl.
Cato Manor police responded to a call and arrived at the scene to find Cato Manor residents had blockaded Bellair Road.
The residents were once again protesting against service delivery failures and the housing shortage in the area.
Initial reports claim the mob numbered approximately 500 people. A police response vehicle apparently could not access Bellair Road but eventually used Harcomb Gardens Road to gain access to the affected area.
The Cato Manor residents allegedly attacked the vehicle, breaking windows attempting to pull the responding officers from their vehicle. It is also alleged by the police that gunshots were heard during the fracas.
The two officers inside the vehicle then discharged their weapons at the ground, clearing the mob and absconding to the station to get back up.
After returning to the scene, police discovered two females injured in the shootout. One is currently in hospital, while the other died at the scene.
Ndabo Mzimela, chairperson of the Cato Crest branch of the shack-dwellers’ movement Abahlali Basemjondolo identified the deceased as Nqobile Nzuza.
This latest fatality brings the number of deaths linked to housing protests in the area to three. Housing activists Nkululeko Gwala and Thembinkosi Qumelo were killed a few months ago, and two weeks ago, Nkosinathi Mngomezulu, another housing activist, was shot dead in a confrontation with the city’s land invasion unit during a scheduled informal settlement demolition programme.
KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Mamunye Ngobeni condemned this attack on members of the police force.
“We acknowledge and respect that the public has a constitutional right to demonstrate but the police also has a constitutional mandate to maintain law and order,” said Ngobeni.
She further said that, “it is regrettable that the violent protest led to the loss of life but our police officers will protect themselves when they are attacked or ambushed and perpetrators of such violent protests will be arrested and prosecuted.”