Teargassed protesters march to police station with dead baby

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Teargassed protesters march to police station with dead baby

Yasantha Naidoo | 2017-05-29 12:03:24.0

Hundreds of informal settlement residents took to the streets in the area last Monday‚ claiming the municipality disregarded their rights to dignity and ignored their pleas for housing and electricity. File photo

Image by: Abahlali baseMjondolo

Hundreds of shack dwellers from the Foreman Road settlement in Clare Estate‚ Durban‚ were marching to the Sydenham police station with the body of a dead two-week-old baby‚ who they say died when police teargassed protesters on Monday.

Abahlali baseMjondolo spokesman Thapelo Mohapi said the baby‚ Jayden Khoza‚ was in a shack at the settlement with his mother when the teargas was released at about 5am.

The community protested earlier on Monday after failing to get a report-back from the eThekwini municipality after protests last Monday.

Hundreds of informal settlement residents took to the streets in the area last Monday‚ claiming the municipality disregarded their rights to dignity and ignored their pleas for housing and electricity.

Mohapi said residents were fed up with being ignored by the municipality and were incensed by the “brutality” of the police and death of the baby.

“The comrades in the Foreman Road settlement organised a road blockade on Tuesday 23 May. They organised another blockade this morning at 5:00am. The police responded by attacking the settlement as a whole with fists‚ batons‚ rubber bullets and tear gas. Many shacks filled up with teargas. Children started crying‚ coughing and vomiting. Residents told the police that they were putting the children in grave danger. However‚ the police continued the attack‚” said Mohapi.

He said it was for this reason that residents were marching on the police station with the baby’s body.

“We have to do this because that is the only language this brutal police force understands. The only crime this Khoza baby boy did was being born to a poor family who lived in a shack. He could have been a president or leader of the country‚ but now he is dead.”

Mohapi said the new administration that came to power after the local government elections in August 2016 promised to break with a history of repression.

“The new mayor even made public apologies for the repression in the past‚ including assassinations. Meetings were held with us and several promises were also made in the media to commit the City to work and engage meaningfully with our movement. We knew we had no reason to trust her‚ or any politician‚ but we thought it was fair to give her a chance‚ especially as our first woman mayor and as a mayor who participated in shack dwellers’ struggles in the 1980s.”

He said she had failed to fulfill all of her promises.

“We are back to the politics of lies and police. We are back to the demand for dignity being met with violence and death. We refuse to accept that our oppression is normal‚ that it is something to be lived and suffered in silence. We demand that our lives must count the same as all other human lives. We demand that the life of Jayden Khoza must count the same as that of every other human being.”

This is a developing story

-TMG Digital/TimesLIVE



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