AbM-WC: The Arrest & Police Assault of Mzonke Poni – update no. 3, 7:47 p.m. 1 June 2009

1 06 2009

Press Update:

We have now been able to confirm the following:

1. Mzonke has, probably as a result of the fantastic national and international solidarity, been able to receive medial attention.

2. The woman who was arrested, with her child, along with Mzonke was subject to intimidation at the hands of the police and threatened to never return to the occupation and then released without being charged. We cannot yet give her name. 3. Mzonke has been charged with public violence. This is the standard charge used against activists in South Africa. It just means that someone – a ward councillor, a mayor, a city manager, an MEC, a police officer – thinks that you don’t know your place. When AbM in Durban was confronting severe state repression from March 2005 until November 2007 more than a hundred people were arrested on this charge. None of them had done any violence to any person or even any damage to property. In each case they were held, somtimes assaulted, and then made to appear in court numerous times and then the charges were dropped just before the trial date. There was not case in which an arrest on a chrage of public violence led to a trial.

4. The police spokesperson says that he “cannot confirm what acts of violence Poni is alleged to have committed” but he did conform that the “arrest relates to illegal land invasion.” Trespass is a minor civil offence. It is not a criminal offence and it is certainly not the same thing as public violence. However the state’s actions towards the Macassar Land Occupation since 19 May 2009 include all kinds of criminal acts including demolishing shacks without an order of the court, demolishing shacks in contempt of court, theft of building materials, assault, public violence and wrongful arrest.

5. The police spokesperson says that he doesn’t “have a mandate to talk about the relationship of this arrest to the court interdict against the City of Cape Town.” However it seems that there is a very high likelihood that Mzonke was arrested and assaultd precisely to punish him for daring to demand that the City of Cape Town cease its ongoingly criminal response to the Macassar Village Land Occupation.

6. According to the police spokesperson Mzonke will appear in the Somerset West Court between 9 and 10 a.m. tomorrow. According the Abahlali baseMjondolo and the Poor People’s Alliance he will be greeted as a hero when he steps into the dock.

Mzonke’s comrade Khanyiso now has Mzonke’s phone and Khanyiso can be contacted on Mzonke’s number (073 256 2036). He will be able to give updates on the stituation and to comment.

People are encouarged to send letters of protest to Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato at mayor.mayor@capetown.gov.za with copies to Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape at abmwesterncape@abhlali.org

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