One man killed after bullets fired into crowd at izinyoka protest

Everson Luhanga

A man was shot dead after an Alex Mall security guard fired several bullets into a crowd which was protesting Tuesday’s izinyoka crackdown carried out by City Power.

Whilst demonstrating outside the shopping centre, the protesters smashed the windows of a passing bakkie. The angry driver of the motor vehicle responded by getting out of his car and firing several shots in the air.

Panic spread through the crowd, and some of the demonstrators and Alex Mall security guards responded by letting off their own handguns.

Mduduzi Sithole, a 27-year-old protester, was struck by a bullet believed to have been fired by a security guard. Nobody else is reported to have been injured.

Sithole, who is known in his community as Jobe, was rushed to hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries.

Police later arrested a 43-year-old security guard in connection with the murder of Sithole.

Sithole’s brother, Siphelele Gazide, said the residents pleaded and begged the security personnel not to shoot at them but the guard didn’t listen. 

“We begged him to go inside the mall premises and lock the gates,” Gazide said.

“As he left the crowd, he turned and fired several live ammunition shots at the crowd, hitting my brother.”

Sithole’s cousin, Lindokuhle Sithole, said the security guards were not supposed to join the protests because police had already arrived on the scene. 

“We were peacefully protesting against the disconnection of power by City Power. We didn’t at any point interfere with the running of the mall.”

The protest was the result of an ongoing power struggle in Alexandra’s River Park section between City Power and residents of the township.

City Power, accompanied by metro police and SAPS officials, have been cutting off illegal electricity connections and in response, residents reconnect the power lines illegally.

The cutting of power on Tuesday enraged residents, who took to the streets blocking the busy London Road that connects Sandton and OR Tambo International airport with burning tyres and stones.

City Power’s Isaac Mangena said: “We can confirm that this incident happened long after City Power and its contractors left the area.”

Police spokesperson Brigadier Brenda Muridili said police are investigating a case of murder and that the suspect has been taken into custody and his firearm has been seized.