A Parkwood community leader has been shot in face by Law Enforcement officers who entered the area on Wednesday morning to remove illegally erected temporary structures. The Head of Parkwood backyarders Association, Dominique Booysen, was shot with a rubber bullet only centimetres from his eye.
Booysen explained that Law Enforcement officers entered the community after 10h00 on Wednesday morning to remove the estimated 150-200 temporary structures. The structures were symbolically erected on Saturday by backyard dwellers who are demanding housing. Despite attempts to engage officers as they began the demolitions, Booysen said his pleas were ignored.
“While I was trying to engage with them, they pushed me out of the way with their shields and me and the cameraman were standing next to each other and shot. He and I were taking photos – not throwing stones.
“They shot me in the face and the cameraman’s eyes were full of tears from the smoke – it’s probably a centimetre from my eye that they shot me.”
Booysen said that he was not afforded medical treatment after he was shot.
He said community leaders would have preferred that they be given an opportunity to engage with residents in order to clear the area without the use of violence.
“I went to them as a community leader to talk to their management and he pushed me back as said he does not want to hear anything, his men must just ‘fall in’. So, they ‘fell in’ and pushed me away with their shields.
“Now Prince George Drive will not be active the entire day – this was not a violent protest,” he noted.
[Source: Footage supplied by Wesley Fester]
Booysen confirmed that a number of residents who refused to vacate their structures were arrested.
“Ladies and men have been arrested, but no children at the moment.
Despite informing officers that she suffered from an eye condition and that she was observing the fast, Waseema, a Parkwood resident was teargassed and arrested.Booyesen said he expected residents to now employ violence to have their demands met.
Meanwhile, the City’s Wayne Dyason said that the structures were removed by the housing contractor.
Dayson confirmed that nine protesters were arrested for public violence.
“The South African Police Service (SAPS) retaliated by firing non-lethal rounds. The area is saturated with officers from SAPS, Law Enforcement, Metro Police and Traffic Services.”
Three truckloads of material used for the structures were removed by officers.
“All the structures have now been removed,” Dyason stated.
Prince George Drive has since been closed to traffic.