Release and drop all charges against the 62 Landless People’s Movement members arrested on Election Day!

Thursday 15 April 2004

APF OUTRAGED AT REPORTS OF PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE OF IMPRISONED LPM MEMBERS BY POLICE’S CRIME INTELLIGENCE UNIT. The Anti-Privatisation Forum calls for the immediate release and the dropping of all charges against the 62 members of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) who were arrested yesterday on election day (Wednesday) on trumped-up and politically motivated charges of violating the Electoral Act. As has now become crystal clear, the LPM members were simply engaged in a legitimate organisational/political meeting in the community of Thembelihle that, in no way, interfered with the electoral process and violated no law.

Despite this, the 62 LPM members have been held in prison since yesterday morning and are scheduled to appear in court later today for a bail hearing. Indications are that the state prosecutor will be demanding R300 bail for each LPM member, thus requiring the resource-poor LPM to post over R18 000 in bail simply to get the imprisoned comrades out of jail for the ‘crime’ of exercising their freedom of assembly and expression.

Even more outrageous are the reports received from the imprisoned LPM members of physical and psychological abuse carried out by the police and directed specifically at three of the LPM’s leading woman comrades - Maureen Mnisi, Samantha Hargreaves and Ann Eveleth. According to reports received by the APF, members of the Police’s Crime Intelligence Unit separately took each of the woman comrades to an interrogation room last night where they were subjected to both physical and psychological abuse. This is an absolute outrage and represents, yet again, a sinister return to the repressive and politically motivated police tactics of the old apartheid days under the guise of ‘law and order’.

The APF stands side-by-side with our LPM comrades and will continue to provide any and all support to the 62 arrested LPM members. We are facing an ANC-controlled state and its repressive apparatus that are clearly intent on smashing our movements organisationally, criminalizing our legitimate exercise of basic political/civil rights and denying the urban and rural poor/landless basic services, socio-economic equality and human dignity. While the ANC celebrates its electoral victory and the evident ‘triumph of democracy’ and while the media and corporate capital trip over themselves in their now predictable cheerleading roles, millions of poor and landless continue to be denied real democracy, which can only be enjoyed on the basis of socio-economic equality and justice.

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