Press Statement from the Alexandra Vukuzenzele Crisis Committee
We, the Alexandra Vukuzenzele Crisis Committee (AVCC), have been fighting for our right to move from our shacks to houses since 2002. We have engaged the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP) and local ANC councilors, but they have failed to respond to our grievances. To push forward the struggle of the poor for our right to housing, we have been non-violently occupying empty RDP houses in extension 7. The government and the police have responded by brutally assaulting us in order to stop us from applying this method of non-violent direct action – the only method we have to force the government to heed to our demands for housing.
On the 7th August 2009, we moved from our shacks to the RDP houses and stayed overnight. The following morning, the police arrived on the scene, led by inspector Mathebula and Ndemanda, and Superintendent Morten, while we were busy calling our comrades together to allocate the empty houses. They asked us if we had documents to move in, and we replied “no, we have our c-forms that say we need houses”. They then handed us a court order from extension 9, dated the 22nd April 2008, which said that we needed to evacuate the premises. We called our advocate by cell phone, who then told the superintendent over the phone that the court order is faulty and that the people are not moving out and should be left alone. Superintendent Ndemanda refused to listen and threatened to shoot us if we did not disperse in five minutes. One of our leaders, Daphne Sehota, responded by asking our comrades to sit down peacefully and they did.
Superintendent Ndmanda then gave the order to the police to shoot rubber bullets at us, including elderly women, and they proceeded to shoot at us while we were seated. Our blood spilled onto the streets as nearly 30 people were injured by the bullets. 26 were arrested on charges of trespassing. We obtained J88’s for many of the victims of the police brutality and reported the incident to the police, as they must be held responsible for their actions, but our claims have been completely ignored. The 26 who were arrested spent four days in jail and have now also been released without ever appearing in court.
This is not the first time we have been assaulted by the police for fighting for our rights. 15 years into our so-called democracy, the government is using the same repressive tactics as the apartheid government used by arresting our leaders and brutally assaulting us. But, the response by the police will not stop us from fighting for our basic human rights. Not only are we being denied the houses that were promised to us by the government, but we are also being suppressed and brutalised by the police when we protest for these rights peacefully. We are calling for advice and support from any organisation or individual who feels we should be able to express ourselves freely without the fear of being attacked.
For more information or to assist, please contact:
Dephne – 078 520 5685
Or, Louis – 071 121 8120