Moments before noxious teargas filled his shack in the Foreman Road informal settlement outside Durban‚ Receive Khoza was playing with his two-week-old son Jayden on a bed.
A teargas canister had been fired into the settlement‚ in Sydenham‚ as police tried to disperse protesting residents.
Shack dwellers had taken to the streets at about 5am on Monday‚ accusing the Ethekwini Municipality of failing to deliver basic services.
“I was just playing with him and then the gas came inside. My wife went out to see what was happening but then all the smoke was inside‚” Khoza said.
He said his infant child was unable to breathe.
“The gas was everywhere and we were running. We called the ambulance but they didn’t come. Eventually my wife and some women took the baby and ran to the road‚” Khoza said.
“They found the ambulance‚ took the baby to them. Then they told me my son was dead.”
The child’s death spawned another wave of protests. A crowd marched to the police station‚ carrying the infant’s lifeless body.
Khoza‚ who is casually employed in a furniture assembly plant‚ and his wife Nomazulu registered a docket over the death as protesters sang outside the Sydenham Police Station.
Riot police were deployed to the area to monitor the situation.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed that a two-week-old baby had died. However‚ the cause of death was unknown‚ he said.
He said an inquest docket was being opened by Sydenham police. A postmortem would be held.
Zwane said residents had embarked on an illegal protest in the early hours of Monday morning‚ blocking a road with burning tyres and rubble.
“The situation is still tense and the police are still at the scene to stabilise the situation. Police always use minimum force when dealing with such illegal and violent protest actions‚” Zwane said.
This is a developing story.