Man blinded by rubber bullet during 2018 protest still waiting for action from IPID

Sivuyisiwe Dyani lost his sight during a protest in Hermanus

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Photo of man in dark glasses
Sivuyisiwe Dyani lost his eyesight when police fired rubber bullets during a protest in 2018. Photo supplied

Sivuyisiwe Dyani lost his eyesight when police fired rubber bullets during the 2018 protests in Zwelihle, Hermanus, in the Western Cape. But the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), which investigates cases like his, interviewed him once, and has never contacted him again.

Diyani, 30, says he is known as “Minister” among his friends because of his love of politics.

On 17 July 2018 he heard noise in the road outside his house in Zwelihle and he went out to see what was going on. He says he saw police shooting at protesters who were running up the road.

“Before I turned back to get inside the gate a rubber bullet hit me. I lost my sight immediately. I felt something strong hitting me under the eye. My nose started to bleed. I thought the eye was out but it wasn’t.“

A neighbour hired a private car and took him to Hermanus Provincial Hospital. The following day he was transferred to Tygerberg Hospital where he was operated on. He lost one eye.

“I still have the other eye but the doctors said my nerves were damaged and there is nothing they could do for me,” he said.

A week after he was discharged from Tygerberg Hospital, he says, he went to open a case at Hermanus Police Station. The police took his statement and said a case had already been opened for all those injured by police during the protests.

Dyani was one of several people seriously injured during the protests, which centred on a controversial land deal in neighbouring Schulphoek. On 24 July 2018, at a meeting with Police Minister Bheki Cele, Zwelihle residents presented about 60 injured people, including Dyani, an 11-year-old child with an arm in a sling, an old man whose leg was in a plaster cast, and two other people with eye injuries. Cele promised to send IPID to investigate the injuries. During the meeting the leaders told the minister that other injured people were still in hospital.

Dyani said IPID did interview him in 2018. They told him police had to open individual cases for all people injured during the protest and took a new statement from him. “They promised to open a case on my behalf and send the case number to my phone. But I never received the case number,” he said.

GroundUp contacted Acting National Spokesperson for IPID Sontaga Seisa by email and text message on 18 March, and then on several later occasions, but he did not respond until 31 March, when he said via WhatsApp that IPID was investigating the case but no arrest had been made yet.

“A senior manager has been allocated to be the lead investigator. Up to so far we interviewed and obtained 38 persons. Due to the magnitude of this matter we cannot anticipate as to when our investigation will be concluded,” said Seisa.​​​​​​​

Before he lost his sight, Dyani was working as a carpenter and playing music gigs part-time. He has a three-year-old son who is staying with the child’s mother. He rents a shack for R600 which he shares with his two unemployed siblings and lives on a monthly disability grant of R1,860.

Heidi Volkwyn, spokesperson for The League of Friends of the Blind (LOFOB), told GroundUp that Dyani had completed a three months basic rehabilitation programme in March this year at LOFOB residential facility in Grassy Park. “In our exit interview he indicated that he is satisfied with the skills gained thus far and is leaving to pursue a marketing course in Worcester,” she said.

TOPICS:  Police brutality Policing

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