Police brutality, inefficiency and incompetency is something the Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and the Government at large needs to find a way to fix.

The Police are expected to be the custodians of the law, they should be protecting lives and properties but on many occasions like in this one, the reverse has been the case.

Police fired rubber bullets and broke the ribs of a 14-year-old boy also smashing his tongue.

There was a peaceful fishing rights demonstration near Hangberg. The teen crossed the Hout Bay valley from Imizamo Yethu and wound up on the frontlines of the demonstration.

But the fourteen-year-old identified as Ona Dubula had gauze stuffed in his mouth after being shot at close range by rubber bullets‚ and couldn’t speak.

The boy has been rushed to trauma ward of Groote Schuur hospital with his mother‚ Pinkie.

Hangberg had erupted into violence after SAPS public order police had cleared an earlier protest‚ with people claiming that the boy who’d been shot — nobody knew his name — had died.

Officials at the Hout Bay Fire Station‚ where Ona had eventually been taken in the back of a police vehicle after collapsing on the curb and being ignored by the police for several minutes‚ said that he’d been transferred to Wynberg’s Victoria Hospital. But he wasn’t in the emergency ward.

“Maybe they took him to Retreat. Or Red Cross. Maybe he’s still in the ambulance‚” a doctor on duty said.

“We were peaceful and then they shot at us!” screamed a resident leading the battle.

“They f*ck*ng shot that boy!”

Ona was lying on his right-hand side with blood on his mattress. Rubber bullets had broken his ribs and smashed his tongue.

Pinkie‚ his mother‚ stood next to him‚ dabbing his swollen cheeks with paper towel. She’d ridden in the ambulance with him after receiving the kind of phone call — a paramedic‚ clipped and to the point — that parents dread.

“I’d last seen him in the morning. You know how boys get. I think they heard something was happening at the harbour and went to look‚” the mother said.

She is unemployed‚ a single mother to five children. She moved to Imizamo Yethu from the Eastern Cape in 2013‚ with Ona joining her two years ago. Her oldest son‚ aged 18‚ came into the ward for a moment and held his brother’s hand.

She’d dressed Ona in his hospital gown after they arrived at Groote Schuur‚ changing the dressing in his mouth whenever it became saturated.

“I don’t think he will be able to talk. His tongue is cut so bad. Will he?”

I didn’t know the answer but a doctor‚ overworked and harried‚ swept through the room a few minutes later.

“He’ll be fine‚” he said. “He was very lucky.”

Looking at the small boy with blood and saliva on his chin‚ caught up in a dispute he had no role in‚ it felt difficult‚ right then‚ to agree.

Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula released a statement saying ”the case is under investigation and he believes the police officers were only doing their jobs.”