Mercury: Shack dwellers falsely arrested, says bishop

Shack dwellers falsely arrested, says bishop

November 19, 2009 Edition 1

Kamini Padayachee

CLERGY from the Diakonia Council of Churches gathered outside the Durban Magistrate’s Court yesterday to pray for 13 people charged with killing two men at the Kennedy Road informal settlement in Sydenham, Durban.

The council has come out in support of the 13 men, claiming that police had falsely arrested the members of shack dwellers’ movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo. In a statement released on Tuesday, Anglican Bishop Rubin Phillip said the police had arrested victims of violence at the settlement, instead of the perpetrators.

“The militia that have driven the Abahlali baseMjondolo leaders and hundreds of families out of the settlement is a profound disgrace to our democracy,” said Phillip. “The fact that the police have systematically failed to act against this militia, while instead arresting the victims of their violence and destruction, is cause for the gravest concern.”

The men are charged with two counts each of murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and additional charges of public violence and malicious damage to property in connection with a September 26 attack at the settlement, in which two people were killed.

The men have all applied for bail, which magistrate B Mbulawa would rule on later this month. Two weeks ago, the bail application was adjourned because Mbulawa said she could only make a ruling if an identification parade was held and she was made aware of which accused were charged with which crimes.

However, yesterday advocate Terrance Seery said his clients had refused to take part in the parade because it would have been a farce.

He said the State had been given sufficient time to hold proper parades.

The case was adjourned to November 27 for the parades to be held and for judgment on bail.