Solidarity: SAMWU statement on police violence in Cape Town


Thursday 31st January 2008

CAPE TOWN ­ SAMWU is disgusted and appalled that the police opened fire at close range with plastic coated steel bullets, at our members in Cape Town one hour ago.

The march through the City ended at 1:30pm after Helen Zille refused to receive the workers¹ memorandum of demands. The marchers were then walking back to Kaisersgracht, District Six, to take their transport home. Three casspirs and eight vans full of police followed them. As soon as the SAMWU members were reaching a field near Kaisersgracht, and were slightly out of the public eye, police suddenly threw a stun grenade at the march for no reason.

Immediately after this, police opened fire at close range with plastic coated steel bullets.

12 SAMWU members sustained injuries and have been rushed for medical attention.

The Chief Marshall and a senior SAMWU leader, Leon Johannes, approached a senior police officer, Captain de Graaf, and asked him to stop the shooting. The police then threw Johannes and two other workers standing with him to the ground and arrested them. These are unlawful arrests and SAMWU will challenge this.

Johannes can be reached now in prison on this number: 083 730 3114

SAMWU would like to issue a very stern warning to the Minister of Safety and Security and Helen Zille: We will not accept police brutality at our marches. The police are well aware that firing plastic coated steel bullets at close range can be fatal. SAMWU intends to make a legal case for damages for this unprovoked attack. We are currently collecting evidence, affidavits and consulting legal counsel about this.