Family grieves after loved ones shot in protest

Ngcwenga Mafenuka, 7, was shot and killed when a stray bullet hit her inside her home.

The grieving Xosa and Mafenuka families from Madikizela informal settlement in Philippi, who lost their relatives as a result of a protest over electricity a fortnight ago, are demanding justice for their loved ones.

Ngcwenga Mafenuka, 7, was shot and killed when a stray bullet hit her in her forehead inside her home while Zamaxulo Xosa, 33, was shot in the stomach while running for cover during the protest.

It is alleged that Mr Xosa and Ngcwengu were shot by security personnel who had been hired by Plaza Philippi Shopping Centre.

Residents claim the security personnel used live ammunition when dispersing protesters.

Mr Xosa’s relative, Emihle Phike, said the family had been told that he had been shot in stomach while trying to take cover.

According to people who saw him, she said, he had tried to continue running but had been unable to.

Some residents rushed to his home to inform his family about what had happened.

That was how the family had learnt of the incident, she said.

Mr Xosa was rushed to KTC hospital where he died a few hours later. Doctors told them that he had sustained massive internal bleeding.

“We are saddened by his sudden passing. He was the breadwinner. He leaves behind two children and one is eight months old. We have no idea how we are going to survive without him. He always made sure that there was food on the table.

“We want the people who shot him to be held accountable and provide for his children. Was it really necessary to use real bullets? I don’t think so.

“The police did not shoot anyone, but it is these security personnel that killed him,” Ms Phike said.

She said Mr Xosa’s children would now grow up without their father and would never get that fatherly love because of someone who felt that it was in order to shoot people with live ammunition.

Community leader Lithemba Gceya said a local businessman had bought an electricity meter box so that residents could connect electricity from it. Ms Gceya said the businessman had done that because he wanted to help them to at least have electricity.

However, he said due to an increasing number of people living in the area, the electricity box meter could not handle the huge volume and would often trip.

Ms Gceya said the residents had asked the management of Shoprite at Philippi Plaza Shopping Centre to buy another electricity meter box so it could ease the pressure on the one they had.

However, she said management had refused and were rude towards the community leadership and that had led to protest.

Ms Gceya said they had heard that the security personnel had been sent by the centre manager, Wally Schaefer, to “take care” of the residents.

“We confronted him about the security he sent to us, and he did not deny that.

“We told him that he must bury the loved ones of these families but he only offered R10 000 each for the family, and we have refused to accept that,” she said.

Thamsanqa Soka, Ngcwenga Mafenuka’s uncle, said the family were devastated and wanted the people who pulled the trigger to be held response for the death of his niece. He said the family were battling to come to terms with Ngcwenga’s death.

Mr Schaefer declined to comment when Vukani called him and said the matter was being handled by the police.

Philippi East police spokesperson, Captain Bheki Xulu, confirmed that they were investigating.