LEADING ANTI-PRIVATISATION FORUM (APF) ACTIVIST AND ORGANISER OF THE SOWETO ELECTRICITY CRISIS COMMITTEE (SECC) - BONGANI LUBISI - PASSED AWAY LAST WEDNESDAY AFTER A BRIEF ILLNESS
ANC ONCE AGAIN REVEALS ITS INTOLERANCE AND CONTEMPT OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSEMBLY FOR THOSE WHO OPPOSE ITS NEOLIBERAL POLICIES
ANC COUNCILLORS AND MEMBERS DISRUPT SECC COMMUNITY MEETING IN EMDENI, SOWETO AND THREATEN ACTIVISTS WITH VIOLENCE IF THEY CONTINUE TO OPPOSE PRE-PAID WATER METERS
CHARGES LAID AGAINST ANC COUNCILLORS IN SOWETO FOR ASSAULTING APF/SECC ACTIVIST - WILL JUSTICE BE CARRIED OUT?
Application to dismiss state’s case granted - verdict of not guilty handed down by magistrate! In a stunning legal victory for the APF, the South African state’s year-long case against the Kensington 87 was dismissed this morning in the Jeppe Regional Magistrate’s Court (Johannesburg). All of the APF activists, who had been facing charges of malicious damage to property and public violence as a result of a demonstration at the house of Johannesburg Mayor, Amos Masondo in April 2002, were found not guilty and discharged. In an extensive half-hour ruling, the magistrate found that the testimony of the state’s main witness, Masondo’s bodyguard, was not credible. The ruling noted that Masondo’s bodyguard had completely contradicted himself during his testimony and cross-examination and that his act of shooting into the crowd of demonstrators had, in all probability, been the main cause of the ’disturbances’ at Masondo’s house.
Yesterday (Wednesday 22nd January), the almost year long case of the Kensington 87 was finally heard in the Jeppe Magistrate’s Court (Johannesburg). If it was not obvious before, then the proceedings of yesterday have clearly revealed that the entire case has, from the beginning, been driven by the ANC government’s political agenda against grassroots activists opposed to its cynical, anti-poor policies.
To try and make its non-existent case, the state prosecutor called three witnesses. Two of those witnesses (Johannesburg Mayor, Amos Masondo’s son and the police commander in charge of the initial arrests) provided absolutely no new factual or contextual information relevant to the charges - public violence and malicious damage to property. The testimony of the prosecution’s main witness, Mayor Masondo’s bodyguard, was a litany of contradictions and outright lies.
South African government continues its campaign of harassing community activists and criminalising legitimate democratic struggles !
On Wednesday, 22nd January (from 9am), the 87 members of the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee & the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) who were arrested on 6th April 2002 will be making their fifth appearance in the Jeppe Magistrate’s Court in Johannesburg. Popularly known as the ‘Kensington 87’, these activists were arrested for protesting water and electricity cut-offs in their communities, linked to the ANC government’s programme of privatisation of basic services, outside the house of ANC Johannesburg Mayor, Amos Masondo.
As is now well known, Masondo’s bodyguard (who has never been charged), without provocation, fired live rounds at the activists who had gathered peacefully outside the Mayor’s house. Consistent with the ANC government’s policy of trying to ‘kill’ the messenger instead of listening to the message, the activists were subsequently rounded-up, arrested and charged with public violence, malicious damage to property and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. Despite the fact that there was/is no basis in fact for such ludicrous charges, ANC politicians have continued to place behind-the-scenes pressure to pursue the charges for clearly political purposes.