Rietvlei Community Protest March Against Violations of Land and Human Rights of the Masikane Family by Local Farmer and Police

23 03 2009

Rural Network Press Release
21 March 2009
Abahlali baseMjondolo & the Rural Network at the Reitvlei Protest – 21 March 2009

On March 21, 2009 the Human Rights Day, we the community of Rietvlei (black and white) and the Masikane family will march on our streets to protest against the:

1. Eviction of the Masikane family by a local farmer
2. Flagrant biasness of the Rietvlei Police Station against the Masikane family
3. Denial of justice by the Greytown Magistrate Court
4. Failure by the Department of Land Affairs to provide tenure security to the Maiskane family

The Masikane family has been living on Bright Water Farm for four generations. They lived in peace and harmony with all previous land owners until the de Gasperyz family bought the farm. The problems started about six years ago when Mr. Collin de Gasperyz started to embark on a campaign to evict the Masikane family who had been on living on that land for four generations. When the family resisted on the grounds that they belong to that land Mr. de Gasperyz started a campaign of constructive eviction which escalated to violence (for more information please see attached KZN Land Legal Cluster’s document).

He started by subjecting the family to verbal abuse, disconnecting water, damaging their water tank, kicked and pulled out doors from their hinges. When that did not work he started to escalate to physical abuse and became very violent (at the same time also abusing other white famer neighbors). His violence is believed to have led to deaths of two family members, i.e. grandmother Masikane who died a day after being attacked by Collin de Gasperyz and her son Bhekuyise Masikane who also died after being attacked by Collin de Gasperyz, in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

All of the abovementioned cases and many others were reported to the local police station (Rietvlei Police Station). About 14 cases have been reported to the Rietvlei Police Station and none of them have resulted in arrest or conviction. It is the community’s belief that Mr. de Gasperyz enjoys favorable treatment from the local police station since he is a friend to the Rietvlei Police Station Commissioner’s husband. Each time the family opens a case the local police station finds a way of either to avoid opening a case formally or sabotage the investigation. For example, on Christmas Eve of December 24, 2008 de Gasperyz evicted some of the Masikane family members. Police were called but did not show up until eight hours later. Their excuse being that they got lost. When the police came back the following day they went to Collin’s house first to hear his side of the story. By the time they came to the family they refused to open a case.

The case was only opened on December 30, 2009 when one of the NGOs intervened. Even then the police were reluctant to open the case against de Gasperyz. While the Masikane family was giving a statement to the police officer who was assisting them with opening the case, the husband of Captain Jonk (Rietvlei Police Station Commissioner) was busy firing gun-shots outside, not far from the room where the Masikane family was sitting. The gun-shots were so loud that the Masikane family got too scared to continue with writing statement. Nevertheless, they finished the statement. The police promised to investigate but to date they have not made any arrest or follow up.

The Masikane family secured a court order in February 2008 preventing de Gasperyz from attacking theme but he continues despite it. Last month Collin de Gasperyz was seen coming out from the Masikane’s house in spite of a court order preventing him from interacting with the family. The house was sprayed all over with some bluish powder which the family is suspecting to have been poison. A family’s cat died after eating food infested with the bluish powder. Another family member, Sifiso, who had not been aware of the poisonous attack ate food and got sick. He was admitted at Northdale Hospital and spent three days there. The case of attempted murder was opened but police have not made any arrest or at least followed up with case. Pathological test results from the cat’s samples have not been collected to dated.

Up to 14 cases (including the ones mentioned above) have been reported to the local Rietvlei Police Station and none of them were successfully investigated or prosecuted. We believe that under normal free and fair democratic system such prolonged abuses and lack of justice should neither happen nor tolerated. We believe that this farmer enjoys favor and protection from the local police station commissioner, Captain Jonk since Mr. de Gasperyz is a friend of her husband. Captain Jonk’s husband used to even accompany de Gasperyz during some of his attacks in the past.

On Tuesday of March 17, 2009 the organizers of the protest march met with the Mshwathi authorities to finalize logistics arrangement for the march, as per the requirements of the Gatherings Act 205 of 1993. Captain Jonk attended this meeting despite a request by the community not to have her supervising the protest march since she has a conflict of interest. During the meeting she stated very clear that she wants to and she is going to supervise the community’s protest march and no one is going to stop her from doing so. The community’s protest march will be submitting a memorandum of grievances against her Police Station. We found this behavior tantamount to abuse of power and unethical.

The Department of Land Affairs have always been made aware of the Masikane situation and have not yet provided the Masikane family with security of tenure and protection against the farmer’s abuses.

The department of Justice has failed to make justice accessible to the Masikane family in spite of numerous cases that have been tried at Greytown Magistrate Court. None of them have resulted in convictions. We believe that there should be a re-investigation of all cases that the Masikane family opened and administered by magistrate Gert van Rooyen to determine if there was no mal-practice since it does not make sense to us that all these cases did not result in any conviction.

Therefore, we have resolved to hold a public protest march scheduled to take place on March 21, 2009 during which we wish to submit our list of complaints and grievances to the relevant authorities.

Date of the Event: March 21, 2009

Time: 10H00 am

Place: Rietvlei Police Station (KZN)

We trust that our invitation will find favour in your consideration. In case you need to contact or wish to meet with us please feel free to contact the following community leaders / conveners: Ms. Nobuhle Madlala (072 197 3881) and Ms. Jabu Masikane (079 914 9224).

Yours sincerely,

Ms. Nobuhle Madlala & Ms. Jabu Masikane

Contact:

Buhle Madlala
P. O. Box 87
Howick
3290
Phone: 072 197 3881
Fax: 086 566 2937
Jabu Masikane
P. O. Box 87
Howick
3290
Phone: 079 914 9224
Fax : 086 566 2937
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