A young Thembelihle resident has fled the volatile informal settlement in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, after he was allegedly shot and left for dead by police.
Lloyd Baloyi, 21, was shot in both legs last Tuesday during violent protests at the sprawling squatter camp. He said four police men stormed his shack while looking for suspects, then shot him.
“I screamed for help, but the policemen walked away like there was nothing wrong,” he said.
Baloyi was left on the floor for more than 10 hours, until community members organised a car that took him to Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.
He was discharged from hospital at the weekend and is now staying with relatives.
Baloyi’s older brother Gerson Baloyi, 36, said he was afraid that his brother might lose his livelihood because of the injuries.
“I am trying to make sure that he goes to all his appointments at the hospital, but I cannot afford it. His boss did not even seem concerned when I told him that Lloyd was shot,” the older brother said.
Gerson said his younger brother, who wanted to become a soldier, is wheelchair-bound and is unable to walk. “I am very worried about that boy,” he said.
Gerson Baloyi said he tried laying a charge against the police but was told that his injured brother had to do that in person.
A metal bullet shell allegedly found in Lloyd Baloyi’s shack was identified at a nearby police station as belonging to a police-issue R5 rifle.
All along, police have insisted that they only fired rubber bullets at the stone-throwing protestors. At least two children suffered serious injuries from the rubber bullets.
Spokesperson for the Independent Complaints Directorate, Tiyane Sambo, said his unit was investigating the case.
“We have taken a statement from Baloyi, however police dispute that they were in the area at the time,” said Sambo.
He appealed to people who might have witnessed the incident to come forward.
Protesters in Thembelihle last week took to the streets to demand water, electricity and proper housing, among other things. They barricaded nearby roads with rocks and burning tyres. The protestors also pelted passing motorists with stones and damaged traffic lights. They allegedly also set two substations in Lenasia alight, leaving residents without electricity.
Residents now say they have suspended the protest action because of fears of being targeted by the police. Bhayiza Miyo, a community leader, said the community was willing to negotiate with the provincial government to settle their differences.
“Many people have been hurt and some have been arrested. The community is starting to fear that one of them might die,” he said.