Protester shot by police dies

Phetane Rapetswane

TSHEPO Babuseng yesterday became the sixth person to be killed by police in a series of deadly protests gripping the country over the past three weeks.

His death comes two days after Human Rights Watch released its World Report condemning police brutality in South Africa, warning that it led to a serious concern about the possibility of a breakdown in the rule of law.

Babuseng, 28, was shot during a land eviction protest near Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg.

“It’s not right what the police did … He was innocent, a quiet guy,” Babuseng’s roommate, Johnson Loabile, said.

“The police are brutal. An officer got out of his van and shot him in the stomach. It is the government doing these bad things,” he said.

Last week, four people were killed in violent water-related protests in Brits. Three were shot and one died when he was either thrown or fell from a moving armoured police vehicle.

Earlier this month, an informal trader was shot dead in Pretoria by Tshwane Metro Police officers during an operation.

Babuseng, who died en route to hospital yesterday, was shot as protesters blockaded roads with burning tyres in Durban Deep.

Residents were protesting against their planned eviction from land owned by Dino Properties.

The company plans to evict 4000 people by the end of the month from land it bought from the former Durban Roodepoort Deep mine.

The residents, who paid rent to Dino Properties, were former workers at the mine, living in old hostels and mining houses.

Dino Properties could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Police spokeswoman Katlego Mogale confirmed the killing.

She said the man was shot after the protesters barricaded the road and rushed towards a police vehicle. “The member, a warrant officer, allegedly fired warning shots. One of the protesters was wounded and was certified dead at the hospital.”

Police arrested 24 protesters during the clashes, which saw vehicles stoned.

Residents have continued to live on the land despite the closure of the mine.

Community leader Anthony Makana, who was among those arrested, said earlier that residents had been served with eviction notices in June, but refused to move unless allocated land close to the disused mine.

“We can’t just be evicted. We have children who go to school around this area.”

He said Dino Properties had told them it was not the company’s responsibility to relocate people, but the state’s.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini said they were investigating the shooting. The arrested protesters will appear in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court today on charges of public violence.