History repeats itself during the Hout Bay protest shootings

13 September 2017 - 16:38 By Petru Saal
Police move in to clear barricade set up by Hangberg protesters. A young boy is shot in the face by a rubber bullet.
Police move in to clear barricade set up by Hangberg protesters. A young boy is shot in the face by a rubber bullet.
Image: Justin Sullivan

“Don’t run‚ they can't shoot you if you stand still!”

Seven years ago this is what Ikram Halim's friend screamed at him when officers opened fire. He didn't listen. He tried to rescue children caught in the crossfire and lost his left eye that day.

On Tuesday history repeated itself in Hangberg in Hout Bay‚ Cape Town. Kevin Davids used the same words to warn Halim. This time Halim‚ 48‚ listened.

The little fishing town ignited because residents were angry about the reduction in the fishing quota.

Police fired at protesters and shot a 14-year-old boy in the mouth.

“When I heard the shots on Tuesday‚ I froze. It was as if I was being taken back into time on that day‚” Halim said.

"My heart stood still on Tuesday. I felt like I was about to die when I heard the shots‚” Halim said.

Kevin Davids‚ 50‚ is relieved that Halim took his advice.

Halim said that the past seven years had been “an uphill battle adapting to function with one eye”.

“My wife and I almost divorced. My children were afraid of me. Not because of the way I looked now but because I changed‚” Halim said.

“When I lost my eye my ego took a knock‚ I didn’t know how to deal with it so I was angry all the time‚ short tempered. I would shout at everyone all the time. I didn’t have the same confidence to speak to people as I did before but over the years it has become better.”

Halim was not the only one who suffered on that fateful day. Three others also lost their eyes in 2010 when police clashed with residents over housing.

“One of them was a pretty girl but when she lost her eye she became a different person. She and her husband divorced. She is on drugs now - I often see her walking around her. She couldn’t handle having one eye.”

A second victim‚ Halim said‚ was still optimistic they would get the justice they deserved. But a lawyer who represented the four victims dropped their case when they ran out of funds.

“He is always telling me that he is going to continue with the case and try and get compensation from it but I just listen to him.”

The third person did not lose his eye but he lost his sight over time in his one eye.

“I seldom go out to sea anymore‚ because my eye burns when the sea water splashes into it.”

He has been a fisherman for close to three decades and has to go out to sea to provide for his family.

“I don’t understand why they didn’t shoot into the air yesterday‚ they were already using stun grenades to disperse the crowd. I don’t understand how you can shoot people neck up.”

WARNING: Graphic content