Emergency Press Update from Abahlali basePemary Ridge
14 November 2009
The attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo continues.
The first van from the Sydenham Police Station arrived at the Pemary Ridge settlement at 8:00 p.m last night. The police officers went to a woman’s tuck shop and kicked down the door saying that they were looking for alcohol. At the time, a man was walking by, and the police assaulted him – they struck him, and swore at him. His sister, who saw the attack, screamed in terror. When members of the community gathered around to see what was happening, the police opened fire, and started shooting people at random. Some residents ran to the river to hide fearing a shoot to kill operation. Others assembled at the top of the road, and began burning tires in protest. More police arrived and they attacked the people protesting on the road opening fire several times. They then went from shack to shack kicking down the doors of residents’ homes and assaulting people in their homes. People were beaten bloody with fists and batons. Some were also pistol whipped. The police fired several rounds into Philani Zungu’s shack.
At least 15 people have been badly injured but we can’t give the final figure yet as many people scattered into the bush down by the river and some are too scared to return to the settlement.
11 people were arrested and are being held without charge in the notorious Sydenham Police station where many Abahlali baseMjondolo members, and other poor African people, have been badly assaulted, and at times even tortured, over the years. Most recently the Kennedy Thirteen were severely assaulted in the Sydenham Police Station. Many of the people who have been arrested were visibly injured when they were arrested and community members saw them being beaten further as they were arrested and put in the vans. But the police are denying that they are injured and have denied them medical attention.
The Pemary Ridge Eleven will appear in the Pinetown’s Magistrate’s court on Monday. It is not yet clear what they will be charged with. Visiting hours at the Sydenham Police station today start at 12:00.
This is the third attack on the Pemary Ridge settlement by the Sydenham Police since the attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo in Kennedy Road. The last two times they came and arrested people for connecting themselves to electricity. This was an attack on the whole community. Before they left the police said “This is a lesson – tell the others.”
The total number of people arrested since the attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo began on 26 September 2009 is now 32. There is no democracy for the poor in Durban. In this city if you are a poor person the police are dangerous criminals and you must fear them.
A full and detailed statement will be issued soon.
eThekwini kukhala abangcwele.
S’bu 076 7438427