Family of girl shot during ANC, EFF clash angry at politicians

Tshiamo Lebaka, the nine-year-old girl who was caught in the crossfire during the riotous altercation between ANC and EFF members in Juju Valley outside Polokwane in Limpopo, is fighting for her life in hospital.

On Sunday, she was shot in the jaw and the bullet was still lodged in her jaw.

Tshiamo’s aunt, Johanna Lebaka, said this during an interview with Sunday World on Wednesday. Her niece was rushed to Seshego Hospital, about 2km away from the scene of political skirmishes that almost claimed her young life.

Tshiamo is currently in the intensive care unit at the Pietersburg Provincial Hospital. Due to her injuries, she is unable to speak. She can only open her eyes.

Still in ICU, but conscious

Lebaka said Tshiamo was able to recognise her close relatives when they paid her a visit in hospital. She was brought to the hospital by politicians.

The Grade 3 learner from Phishego Primary School in Zone 1, Seshego, was shot while she was attending an EFF-organised sports event with friends. It was held at the sports grounds a few metres away from her family’s home in the informal settlement.

“There were gunshots all over the place. Stones flying from all directions as the angry comrades were brandishing guns and knobkieries. They also … had pangas, machetes and all sorts of dangerous weapons,” said a woman who only identified herself as Tebatso.

Tebatso said she tried to rescue [Tshiamo] from the belligerent mob. She added that she was hit with a stone on her head by a man who was wearing an ANC T-shirt.

She said: “I saw the little girl lying there unattended to. And from a distance, you could see that she was bleeding heavily.

Witness says culprits wore ANC T-shirts

“I rushed to her and tried to block her blood with a jersey but as I doing so, someone from the ANC camp forcefully grabbed my hands. As I was attacked and fearing for my safety, I had to run for dear life. You could see that those people wearing ANC T-shirts were baying for blood. They had guns and you could see that these were thugs.”

Lebaka, said at this moment they still don’t know what happened to her niece.

“This incident has left us shattered. We are now the talk of the town in Juju Valley and on social media platforms. Though no one knows the pain we are going through. Despite the traumatic experience we are going through, our plight is now being politicised.

“Moments after the shooting incident, we were inundated with ANC comrades who pretended to care. They came in large numbers and overcrowded the hospital ward. What shocked me the most was that immediate family members were barred from entering the ward.”

Johanna named those who flooded the ward as ANC stalwarts. Kgalema Motlanthe and  Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha. Also Polokwane mayor John Mpe, Health MEC, Phophi Ramathuba, and former EFF now ANC member Jossey Buthane.

She added that the politicians were in the ward with their bodyguards.

ANC bigwigs visited victim in hospital

“There were many politicians in the ward but I couldn’t understand the reason for their presence. Because except for Phophi, none of them was a doctor or a nurse. I tried to explain to the security guards that I was the patient’s niece. But they were not interested in my passionate pleas.

“It was like a political meeting while I was shoved into a nearby ward. They were just politicking, making empty promises that they will assist my niece. I almost cried when I heard Jossey saying ‘are lebogeng bophelo’ (let’s just be thankful for life). But you could sense that he was not sympathetic” said a distraught Johanna.

Since that traumatic incident, according to Johanna, the family has never received any calls from the ANC bigwigs who were in the ward.

Joshua Kwapa, the spokesperson for the provincial department of social development, gave an update. He said at the moment they are still assessing the situation. They will later provide the victim and the family with psychosocial counselling, he said.

Johanna said that in the aftermath of the shooting, no one has been arrested and no criminal case has been opened.

However, Brigadier Hlulani Mashaba, the spokesperson for Limpopo police, said they are investigating four cases. These are attempted murder, malicious damage to properties and two counts of contravention of Sec 87 (1)(f) of Electoral Act of 1998.

Mashaba said: “Preliminary investigation indicates that several people sustained injuries after the members hit each other with stones and several shots were fired. There are no arrests yet with regard to all these cases. But police have intensified investigations to track down and arrest the suspects.”

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