St Helena bay protest

St Helena bay protesters blocked roads. Photo: Twitter/

St Helena Bay protests contained as young boy fights for his life

Following mediation efforts, the violent protests in St Helena Bay are understood to have been brought to an end after mediation was reached.

St Helena bay protest

St Helena bay protesters blocked roads. Photo: Twitter/

Protest action has continued in St Helena Bay in the Western Cape, where an 11-year-old boy was shot by a reported stray bullet fired by a police officer who was responding to the scene of public violence sparked by anger over the distribution of land

The boy, Leo Williams was shot on Friday 31 July when the bulk of the violence began, and he is currently fighting for his life in a Cape Town hospital. Doctors have warned that removing the bullet, which remains lodged in his head, would put his life in serious jeopardy. 

St Helena Bay protests contained

Western Cape SA Human Rights Commissioner (SAHRC), Chris Nissen, was involved in a mediation process this week between leaders of the protesting communities and officials from the Saldanha Bay Municipality, and it is understood that roads in and out of the community have now been reopened with both parties having come to an agreement.

The Western Cape’s Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, said on Thursday 6 August that he remains concerned over the violent protest action in St Helena Bay and has written to the Provincial Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata, requesting that urgent clarity be provided on the matter be forthcoming.

“I have written to Lieutenant General Matakata and requested clarity on the nature of the protest action, public violence and damage to property in St Helena Bay; the steps being taken to abate this; and the number of arrests made to date, amongst others. I call on residents to remain calm.”

“Acts of public violence will not be tolerated.”

A peace agreement between residents, who have been clashing with police since Friday when the land protest escalated, had previously been reached with local law enforcement, but according to local residents, tensions remained high.

Roads have been obstructed, with tyres set alight and vehicles pelted with stones, and police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said that police would continue to vigilantly monitor the situation until order is restored. She added that police have arrested a 35-year-old man. egress to and from the community has been heavily restricted.

“Police officials were deployed to quell incidents public violence on the west coast and they arrested a 35-year-old suspect in St Helena after a group of about 500 demonstrators barricaded roads, pelted police with stones, and threw petrol bombs and flares.”

Young boy, allegedly shot by police, fights for his life  

Fritz said that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is interrogating the circumstances that led to 11-year-old Williams being shot in the head. 

“I have further expressed my concern to Lieutenant General Matakata over the shooting of an 11-year-old boy in St Helena Bay who was shot in the head amidst crossfires, reportedly by SAPS, and requested clarity in terms of the circumstances surrounding this shooting,” he said. 

“I welcome the Independent Police Investigative Directorate’s (IPID) investigation into this matter.”

Williams’ mother, Lucille Williams, told Daily Maverick that there is a strong chance her child will have suffered brain damage.

“When I looked at Leo I thought my child was going to die. But I felt it wasn’t his time because he is still so small. I asked myself, why can’t the pain he endured be handed to me. I keep on asking myself, ‘Why him?’”

“No parent should experience such pain. I know my child’s brain has been damaged and I know there is a chance that he might be a vegetable. It doesn’t matter if he comes home as a vegetable or paralysed, but I don’t want to bury him,” Williams said.