JOHANNESBURG, May 30– The National Freedom Party (NFP) on Tuesday blamed the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the death of a two week old baby boy.
On Monday police fired tear gas during a service delivery protest by Abahlali baseMjondolo, (Shack Dwellers) in Durban. Some of the protesters complained they had been waiting for electricity and proper housing for more than 20 years.
Baby Jayden Khoza died allegedly after inhaling the tear gas.
“NFP condemn this brutal act by the police, we want to question the role of police in our communities especially when it comes to protests. It seems as if police are becoming the worst enemy of our people,” said the Provincial Chairperson Vikizitha Mlotshwa.
He said police officers who are hired on merit should be able to analyse the environment before “brutally attacking” protesters.
“It is unjustifiable that innocent baby could be killed by the police in this manner.”
The parents of the dead baby, Receive Khoza and Nomazulu Thwala, said they did not participate in the protest.
Recounting events leading up to the baby’s demise, Khoza said during the protests Nomazulu went outside to see what was happening.
“She saw the canister sparking next to our shack, and then the gas started spreading inside the shack,” Khoza said on Monday.
He said soon after that his baby boy stopped breathing.
The distraught parent managed to call an ambulance, but it could not reach their home because protesters were blocking Foreman Road and part of Randles, which were the only access points.
On Tuesday the NFP has demanded a commission of enquiry to investigate how police are being trained in handling protests.
Mlotshwa said police should have used water tanks to separate protesters. “In this incident police have violated and abused their right to disperse protesters at the expense of the innocent life of the baby.”
“We call on the MEC Mxolisi Kaunda to take full responsibility and the Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to account directly.”