Inquest into death of baby after teargas fired in Marikana

Alunamda Mncedane died during Monday’s protests in Philippi, Cape Town

Photo of two women

Sixteen-year-old Akhona Mncedane (left) after losing her four-month-old baby. Her mother, Thandiwe, says they do not have the money to bury the child. Photo: Velani Ludidi

By Velani Ludidi

26 June 2019

An inquest has been ordered into the death of a four-month-old baby after teargas was fired by police during protests in Marikana, Philippi, on Monday.

Akhona Mncedane, 16, says she and her baby, Alunamda, were inside their home when police were forcing protesters back into the settlement using rubber bullets and teargas.

“The child was sleeping and we were watching her. I started coughing due to something strong that I was inhaling, and the child started crying and after that it was silence.”

The child’s grandmother, Thandiwe Mncedane, said she knew something was wrong when Alunamda stopped moving.

She said they were unemployed and did not know how they would bury the child. “I have two children other than Akhona who are younger and we are poor.”

“I can’t talk anymore, please go,” said the grieving mother.

Moses Dlamini of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate said IPID had not received any report about the death of the baby.

Police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk said: “An inquest case was registered for investigation following the death of four-month-old baby in Marikana on Monday, 24 June 2019. A post-mortem will be conducted to determine the cause of death.”

During Monday’s protests vehicles were torched and police used teargas which spread through the settlement. Residents, including children, were forced to flee their homes.

Protests continued on Tuesday.

The ANC in the Western Cape expressed shock after ANC member Andiswa Ndevu died in a car accident while trying to evade the protest on the corner of Lansdowne Road and Symphony Way. ANC Western Cape provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs said a car in front of Ndevu’s had been stoned and when she tried to make a U-turn another vehicle had driven into hers.

“We express our condolences with her family and call on our communities to refrain from taking their frustrations and anger out on motorists. There are other more peaceful ways to protest.”

A police statement said that at about 8pm a 30-year-old woman and a man were fatally injured between Symphony Way and Govan Mbeki Road in Philippi East.

“According to reports the woman was in the one vehicle of three vehicles who were involved in the accident, when they were trying to get away from people throwing stones.

“In the Philippi East policing area eight vehicles were burnt,” Van Wyk said in the statement.

Community leader Xolani Tukwayo said leaders had told residents at a meeting that protests would be stopped in order to deal with the baby’s death but the residents had decided otherwise. “They accused us of selling out and went on the N2 to start protesting.”

Tukwayo said the people were tired of empty promises. “It is out of our hands now and we are meeting with the police to tell them that more protests are coming.”

Among residents’ demands are more streetlights. In some places residents had installed their own street lights to reduce crime in the area, Tukwayo said.

Mayco member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi said he would meet the Marikana residents on Wednesday afternoon.