Girl shot dead after protesters corner cops in Cato Crest

The housing allocation dispute in Cato Crest has claimed another victim, this time a 17-year-old girl who was shot and killed during a housing protest in Cato Manor, Durban on Monday morning.

The latest killing brings to three the number of people killed in the raging battle in Cato Crest, following the murders of housing rights activists, Nkululeko Gwala and Thembinkosi Qumelo, a few months back. Two weeks ago another housing rights activist, Nkosinathi Mngomezulu, was shot by the city's land invasion unit during a resisted demolition of shacks in the area.

Abahlali baseMjondolo's Mnikelo Ndabankulu, spokesperson for the shack dweller's movement, said Mngomezulu has been discharged from the King Edward Hospital Intensive Care Unit but not yet out of hospital.

Ndabo Mzimela, chairperson of the Cato Crest branch of the shackdweller's movement, said the deceased was identified as Nqobile Nzuza (17) from Maphumulo.

Meanwhile, Bandile Mdlalose, secretary general of the organisation, was reportedly arrested during Monday's violent protest in the area.

Early on Monday, branches of Abahlali baseMjondolo in Cato Crest informal settlement, Kenny Road and Siphungo decided to block the road, demanding an immediate response to their petition sent to the Durban Municipality on September 16.

Police called to disperse crowd
South African Police Service's spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker told News24 that residents blocked Bellair Road in the morning and police were called to disperse the crowd.

"About 500 people surrounded the vehicle. They started stoning the vehicle and broke all the windows. The suspects then tried to pull the police out of the vehicle," said Naicker.

"They heard gunshots among the crowd. They fired shots into the crowd and the crowd dispersed … they used live rounds. They definitely would have been killed by the crowd [otherwise]."

The vehicle then left the area.

Police returned to the scene a while later and found a young woman had been shot. She died on the scene.

"Members of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate were called to the scene. They opened a docket of public violence and one of murder," said Naicker.

On September 1, the municipality demolished Cato Crest shacks in violation of an undertaking made to the high court in Durban on August 22, that it would halt evictions pending the finalisation of the application for a final order.

Manqoba Nxumalo is the Mail & Guardian's Eugene Saldanha Fellow for social justice reporting in 2013.

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