Charges against Boiketlong and Thembelihle activists dropped

Press Release Thursday 16th August 2007

Thursday 16 August 2007

All those arrested in Boiketlong (Sebokeng) service delivery- housing protest on Tuesday were released an hour ago without being charged. Some of the injured still receiving medical attention.

Less than an hour ago, all 34 community residents arrested during Tuesday’s protest in Boiketlong, were released from the Sebokeng Police Station without being charged. Police had held the residents since Tuesday morning and had initially intended to charge them in court this morning with public violence and illegal gathering. However, it become clear this morning when the residents were not brought to court that the Police had no case and after the expiry of the 48 hour period of holding those arrested that is allowed under law, all were released. At least two residents who were injured continue to receive medical attention and are considering opening cases against the police.

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), who provided legal support in this case through their Strategic Litigation Unit, have noted with concern the increase in the number of charges of public violence and the use of excessive force, reminiscent of practices utilised by the apartheid regime, against community members who demand accountability and answers on basic service provision from unresponsive elected officials.

The APF and the CAWP, along with the Boiketlong community hail this as a victory over those intent on smashing legitimate protest and arresting freedom of dissent. We thank the Strategic Litigation Unit at LHR for their excellent legal support in this case and all those social movements, community organisations, progressive NGOs and other individuals who have expressed solidarity. The Struggle Continues!!

For updates/comment on the continuing Boiketlong struggle contact PATRA on 0730527005

Charges of public violence dropped against 17 members of the APF/Thembalihle Crisis Committee

Two days ago - Tuesday 14th August - charges of public violence were dropped against 17 members of the APF/Thembalihle Crisis Committee - who had been arrested on charges of public violence on 10th July following a community protest over lack of service delivery. Represented by the Strategic Litigation Unit at Lawyers for Human Rights, the 17 Thembalihle residents had seen their case postponed twice while police and the Public Prosecutor attempted to build case against them. At the court hearing on Tuesday, submissions by the LHR legal team succeeded in the already weak case finally crumbling. This victory is another important milestone in the ongoing struggle by poor communities for service delivery and human dignity.

For updates/comment on continuing Thembalihle struggle contact SILUMKO on 0721737268

Background to the case and the struggle for service delivery & housing in Thembalihle Post-1994, residents waited patiently for visible signs of job creation, public housing construction, the provision of water and electricity and enhanced educational and recreational facilities but nothing was forthcoming. The community’s repeated attempts to engage in meaningful dialogue with their local councillor and with the Mayor of Johannesburg fell on deaf ears. Instead, in 2002, the City of Johannesburg sent in the Red Ants to try and forcibly evict the entire community (to be moved to desolate and far-away Vlakfontein) and the community fought back, successfully resisting their removal. After this, they were promised that thousands of houses would be built and that basic services would be delivered - but yet again, the community was forgotten and little or no development has taken place in the last several years.

On 8th July 2007, the community held a mass meeting which demanded a report about the provision of housing and electricity in the area. Having received no answers from their councilor or officials in the City Council, the community took the resolution to engage in a peaceful march to the local municipal offices on the morning of 9th July so that officials could respond to their previous memorandums. Despite community requests for a meeting, the Johanesburg City Manager failed to meet with community members on two separate occasions on that day. The community decided to stage a blockade so that the Mayor of Johannesburg would come to address their grievances in light of the council’s lack of accountability to the community. The demonstration went into the early hours of the morning, at which time the South African Police Service, together with the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police, opened fire on community protesters with rubber bullets. The crowd dispersed under heavy fire from the police and scores of people were injured. Seventeen community members were arrested randomly from their homes or on their way to the spaza shops. On 7th August 2007, the case was postponed for a week for the purposes of further investigation. On 14th August 2007, the case against the 17 members of the APF/Tembalihle Crisis Committee was withdrawn and all charges were dropped.


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