Instead of celebrating her 21st birthday today with her twin sister, a third-year law student is nursing a wound after allegedly being shot with rubber bullets by police.
Bongeka Mntaka, of Pietermaritzburg, was caught in the crossfire as police and security dispersed students during violent protests at the University of KwaZulu- Natal Howard College campus on Tuesday.
“I was with a group of students heading to the park across from campus to prepare for a presentation,” she said.
“We suddenly saw striking students throwing stones at security guards.
“We decided to leave when we saw it was getting heated. As I was making my way to my residence, a black female police officer asked me to go in the other direction.”
Mntaka said she had been shot shortly thereafter.
She received stitches in hospital after a doctor removed two rubber bullets and a plastic cap.
She said the person who shot her had claimed to have shot at the ground.
“I saw her point it straight at me. Initially I didn’t feel the pain, but as I lifted my dress I could feel a stinging sensation and saw a hole in my leg.” Mntaka said she had been left traumatised by the ordeal and had been having nightmares.
“I was shocked as I did not expect this from police.
“I expected the police to protect me from the violent strike. I was not a threat or one of the strikers. The police failed me,” Mntaka said.
Yesterday university management announced that the institute would close earlier for the September recess.
Meanwhile, angry students took to the streets outside the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal yesterday morning, chanting “rape must fall”.
Their protest followed allegations by a student that she was raped by police and sexually assaulted early on Tuesday morning during violent protests at the campus.