Our Struggle to be counted as Part of the Public Continues

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement

 

Our Struggle to be counted as Part of the Public Continues

On the 5 of September 2013 Sibongile Msiya, Nokulunga Magobongo and Bhekani Mzinhle were arrested in Cato Crest. Their homes in the Marikana Land Occupation had just been illegally destroyed by the eThekwini Municipality. The residents responded by organising a road blockade. When the first police officers arrived on the scene the three comrades showed them a court order interdicting the Municipality from carrying out evictions. When the Superintendent, Mganga, arrived the three comrades were arrested on the spot. They were all charged with ‘public violence’. Their real ‘crime’ in the eyes of Mganga was that they were standing up for their rights and showing the police that the Municipality’s actions were illegal and criminal acts against the public.

The two women, Sibongile Msiya and Nokulunga Magobongo, were seriously assaulted in the Cato Manor police station. The movement was able to secure police bail for all three comrades at R500 each. When Sibongile and Nokulunga were released their clothes were torn and they had visible injuries. This was police violence against the public.

After numerous appearances in court the case of the Cato Crest Three went to trial on Monday and Tuesday last week. The three comrades were represented by a legal aid lawyer. The two police officers that testified claimed that the three had stoned a police car. This was not true. The two police officers gave such contradictory and obviously unconvincing evidence that the case against Nokulunga was dismissed on the first day of the trial. The case against the Sibongile and Bhekani was dismissed on Tuesday.

The road blockade organised by the residents of the Marikana Land Occupation in Cato Crest on 5 September 2013 did not result in any harm to any person or any damage to any property. But as usual burning tyres are taken as violence. The fact is that on this day the eThekwini Municipality was guilty of illegally destroying people’s homes, in violation of the law, the Constitution and a court order. It is also a fact that two women were severely beaten by the police for trying to show that the actions of the Municipality were illegal. Yet no one from the Municipality or the police has been arrested for these crimes. We all know that no one from the Municipality or the police will ever been arrested for these crimes. We all know that there will be no arrest for the murder of Nqobile Nzuza by the police in Cato Crest on 30 September 2013. A police officers can shoot a 17 year old girl in the back of the head in front of a large number of witnesses and he will never be arrested.

It is clear that it is taken as a criminal act for us to stand up for our rights. It is clear that we are not taken as being part of the public. We are the people that can be evicted, beaten and killed with impunity.

Since our movement was formed in 2005 we have constantly been arrested on charges of public violence. Not one person arrested on this charge has ever been convicted. For years the charges would always be dropped just before the cases went to trial. Now that the state is taking the cases to trial they are not getting convictions. The power of arrest is being systematically misused as a form of political intimidation.

We were scheduled to return to court for the trial of the eKuphumeleni Three (Shallcross) tomorrow but the case has just been adjourned, at the last minute, ‘for further investigation’. Of course this means that there is no evidence against the accused. The trial of the Ridgeview Twelve is set for 30 and 31 July 2014. The trial of the Umlazi Seven is set for 6 August 2013.

Last weekend our attempt to hold a meeting in Madlala Village had to be abandoned due to intimidation. We are pleased to be able to report that on Sunday we were able to hold a successful meeting in the community which has now been renamed Sisonke Village. Some of the men who were involved in the intimidation last week came to the meeting to apologise for their action. They explained that they had been misinformed about our movement by the local ANC.

 

For further information and comment on the dismissal of all charges against the Cato Crest Three please contact:

Sibongile Msiya @ 071 165 6742

Ndabo Mzimela @ 072 401 5974

 

For further information and comment on case of the eKuphumeleni Three please contact:

Albert Ngubane @ 079 482 0904

Makhosi Khumalo @ 079 261 6716

 

For further information and comment on the situation in Sisonke Village please contact:

Mam Bhemu 083 5879313

Mam Zulu 084 2003916

Mam Dodana 083 9741223