Maphiwe Gasela, Siniko Miya and Landu Tshazi granted bail. Ntokozo Ngubane arrested.

1 February 2023
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement

Maphiwe Gasela, Siniko Miya and Landu Tshazi granted bail. Ntokozo Ngubane arrested.

 Yesterday Maphiwe Gasela, Siniko Miya and Landu Tshazi were finally granted bail in the Durban Magistrate’s Court.

They have all previously been arrested on bogus charges, been denied bailed and kept in the notorious Westville Prison for more than six months before the charges were dropped.

Late last year they were arrested on a new set of bogus charges. Although they handed themselves over to the police when they were told that new charges had been brought against them they were not given bail. Their right to a bail hearing was repeatedly denied on spurious grounds such as police officers being unavailable, a court administrator being unavailable, there being no water at the court, the electricity being off and so on. This went on for more than two months and they were forced to spend Christmas in prison.

They were denied the right to a bail hearing even though it is now recognised that they have previously been arrested and jailed on bogus charges, and that their accuser is a confirmed liar. They were denied the right to a bail hearing even though Maphiwe has a two-year old child who still needs to be taken care of by the mother, while Landu and Siniko have babies that need their support financially to grow. Even when they have presented before court their physical address they were still denied their right to bail.

Today they were finally able to realise their right to a bail hearing and were granted bail.

Westville Prison is a place built and run with the aim of vandalising people’s humanity on an organised basis. Every hour that a person endures in the prison is marked on that person forever. It is outrageous that people can repeatedly be arrested on bogus charges and either denied bail or the right to a bail hearing and then be jailed for months before the charges are dropped. The criminal justice system – which is already an unfair and abusive system for poor people – is being flagrantly misused for the purposes of political repression.

We are hugely relieved by the release of our comrades but we are still concerned about their safety and the possibility that more trumped up charged will be brought against them and other leaders of the movement.

The justice system in this country is deeply unfair when it comes to the poor. It is organised around the hatred of the poor. Everyone knows that the political elite are quickly given bail without being in held in custody when they are arrested. Even when they are facing serious charges of murder and corruption they still receive bail and spend time with their families while attending a trial. But if you are a poor person you are treated with contempt, as if you are not even a person, not even a human being. This does not happen to those who are politically connected or those who can afford expensive lawyers. The justice system in this country only recognises the rights of those who have money and who can access the best lawyers. This is not a system of innocent until proven guilty. It is a system that seeks to diminish and abuse those who are poor.  It is a system that is anti-poor. Everybody needs to be clear on this point.

The justice system is even more hostile to the strong poor, the organised poor. We have seen this very clearly with the eKhenena Commune. The criminal justice system is lenient to those who are repressing us, but when it comes to us they will deny us bail even when it is clear that there is no case. This shows that there are those in the criminal justice system who are aligned to those who want to destroy the Commune

As we celebrate the release of the three comrades we remain careful because the enemy is not only capable of creating trumped up charges, they are also capable of killing. We have not received any justice for the murder of Lindokukuhle Mnguni, the chairperson of the eKhenana Commune who was assassinated with thirteen bullets. The police have video footage of the attackers but they have not acted.

The attack to the Commune has been consistent as those who want to appropriate land for their own private profit will stop at nothing in order to destroy the Commune which puts land in common and refuses to allow the land to be sold or shacks to be rented. Those who wish to keep society under control of the ANC will stop at nothing in order to destroy our autonomous movement.

There was another important development today. For a very long time our comrades have been beaten, threatened, arrested and jailed on bogus charges, had their homes destroyed and assassinated with impunity. But, after years of struggle, good legal work and working to build alliances with the good people still in the system this impunity is slowly being rolled back.

Siyabonga Mngadi, who works closely with the Ngubane family, was arrested two weeks ago. Now the police have finally arrested Ntokozo Ngubane. Ntokozo has been in the forefront of creating these trumped up charges against our comrades, and has shown to be a liar in court. She worked alongside her father and her brothers to destroy the Commune. She is the daughter of Samson Ngubane who is the pastor who is in currently in prison for the murder of Nokuthula Mabaso who was the women’s league chairperson in the eKhenana Commune. She was arrested for destroying the cooperatively managed shop at the Commune in which the surplus from the garden and poultry projects is sold.

Given the relationship that Ngubane family has with Chief magistrate who is also a Ngubane we are not surprised that the state has not opposed Mngadi’s bail. We expect the same dearly treatment with Ntokozo as she appears in court today.

We are still a movement in mourning for the loss of the three comrades that we have lost in the Commune last year. The comrades suffered a lot before they were assassinated. Assassinations happen across Southern Africa and while our three comrades from eKhenana were still in Westville Prison other comrades from the Commune travelled to Swaziland for the memorial for Thulani Maseko, our comrade from Pudemo who was recently assassinated by Mswati’s thugs. Our struggle to affirm and defend the dignity of the oppressed – of all people – has no borders. We will keep working to build solidarity across Southern Africa, throughout Africa and whenever people are met with repression when they stand up for justice.

Land. Dignity. Freedom.

Every person everywhere must count as a full and equal person.

The struggle continues in Durban, Manzini, Sao Paulo. Everywhere.

Thapelo Mohapi 084 576 5117
Bathabile Makhoba 081 360 2461
Mqapheli Bonono 073 067 3234