Woman opens assault case against police after a shooting that cost her eye

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A young woman from Browns Farm on the Cape Flats, in the Western Cape, has opened a case of assault against police during the lockdown. Siyasanga Gijana says she lost her eye after she was hit in the face while inside her yard.

The shots were allegedly fired by police.

The 27-year-old Gijana, one of many people that lost a temporary job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lives alone in a shack at Ramaphosa Informal Settlement in Browns Farm. But, she says, her life took a turn for the worse last Thursday.

Gijana was fetching water and was inside her yard when she heard loud noises. She says police were moving down the road past her home.

“And then I just heard the shotgun, pah! and then it’s something like is hitting me in my face, in my eye, then I cried. I called Gugu, ‘Gugu come, come. What is going on in my eye and then I ran to my hokkie…’ The blood was spreading like this in my eyes then I put a towel and I put it like this, I was like I was crying, shouting.”

To her and her neighbour’s horror, she was seriously injured. A resident came to her aid and took her to the nearest hospital.

Gijana was told the injury was severe and she was transferred to Groote Schuur Hospital.

Doctors found there was no damage to her brain, but there was very bad news. She was told that her eye will have to be removed.

“They checked the eye and said ‘this eye is very damaged, so we’re going to take it off.’ And then I was crying and I said ‘okay, it’s fine, you can take it off.’ So, I just asked myself, I don’t have an eye and then how am I going to work? Where am I going to get a job now? And I’m staying alone. I don’t have parents.”

Gijana had hoped to finish her matric in 2020 and pursue a career in Information Technology (IT). Now, she has lost hope. She was discharged on Monday and filed a complaint at the Nyanga Police Station on Tuesday. She hopes that the people who shot her will be found.

“I wish they could find those people who shoot me, and then I wish government can pay me because I don’t know how I’m going to survive now. I don’t know where I’m going to get a job now. They can look after me and pay me.”

Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut of the Western Cape SAPS has confirmed that a case has been opened.

“An incident where a female resident of Ramaphosa Informal Settlement in Browns Farm was shot allegedly by police and lost her eye was reported to police and the circumstances are currently under investigation.”

Gijana says she hopes she will receive aid from government, at the very least with food parcels, as her situation has gone from difficult to dire in less than a week.

In the video below, citizens decry police brutality during the lockdown:

Earlier this week, the Indepedent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) was due to appear before Parliament’s Police Portfolio Committee to discuss police brutality, but the meeting was postponed.