Teargas canister had been fired into the settlement‚ in Sydenham‚ as police tried to disperse protesting residents.The shack dwellers had taken to the streets at about 5am last Monday‚ May 29th, 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‚” father of the baby, Receive Khoza told ENCA.
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‚” he said.
The death of the child 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, who confirmed the incident said the cause of death was unknown and a post-mortem would be held.
Zwane said residents had embarked on an illegal protest in the early hours of that morning‚ blocking a road with burning tyres and rubble.
“Police always use minimum force when dealing with such illegal and violent protest actions‚” Zwane said.
However, Abahlali baseMjondolo spokesman Thapelo Mohapi said:
“The police responded by attacking the settlement as a whole with fists‚ batons‚ rubber bullets and tear gas. Children started crying‚ coughing and vomiting."
An umlindelo (vigil) was held on Friday night to give
“Jayden Khosa the respect and dignity he deserved‚ but which was denied to him in an oppressive society”‚ Mohapi said in a statement.
He said representatives from the mayor’s office visited settlement on Thursday.