Protests in E Section set to continue after Thursday’s police violence

17 04 2011

17 April 2011
Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement

Residents have vowed to continue their protest against the eviction of a poor family and against Thursday’s police brutality that has left 3 residents seriously injured. Residents will submit a petition to police today and fight for the rights and dignity of resident’s vulnerable to greedy banks and politicians.

Wednesday

As we saw all over the news, on Wednesday the 13th, the Sheriff of the Court came to E Section with police and security guards to evict Nomachina Magodla and her 7 children because the greedy banks have no interest in helping her find a way to repay her dead husband’s loan. Community members mobilised in support of the family blockading the road, burning tyres, and trying to remove the private security guards the bank has placed inside the home.

Negotiations between the community of E Section and the police on Wednesday provided no solution to the Magodla family. The community then went to night court to find relief for the Magodla family but at night court there was still no solution.

Thursday

The following day, Thursday the 14th of April, community members went to Bellville Magistrates Court with the Magodla family to support their efforts to get back into the house. The court did not rule in the family’s favor and would not allow any stay or reversal of the eviction.

The community of E Section were not happy with these results and it became clear to them that the law protects the rich people and the banks at the expense of the poor. While the eviction was carried out by the sheriff of the court with a legal eviction order, the legal process was unfair, unjust and was based on selective reading of the Constitution and the PIE Act. In particular, the clause asserting that an eviction cannot take place unless there is adequate alternative accommodation made available to those who are evicted. Because the court did not ensure that the Magodla family had access to another place to live, the eviction is not acceptable under South African law. The South African government should help the family pay out their loan, which they are willing to pay. However, since the poor are viewed with contempt by government, Nomachina and her family will not be allowed to get their house back.

Thursday afternoon following court the community of E Section, united with anger at the banks, the government and the judicial system, gathered once again outside the home of Nomachina and reported on the events to those who had not made it to court. The community collectively agreed that the protest should continue and they resolved that no one will be allowed inside the house including security guards, government officials or police.

The community, led by a large contingent of women from the area, protested. This time, there was no burning of tyres or road blockade. Singing freedom songs and dancing, the protest was entirely peaceful until the police arrived in numbers and immediately began shooting at the community.

Three community members were seriously injured by so-called non-lethal bullets. Nkosinathi Thafeni was shot in the leg. An old man not involved in the protest and who was just passing by was also shot in the leg when the police sprayed community members with bullets.

Asive Phatiswa Gaji was shot directly in the face from close range and she remains in hospital until this day. Her injuries will have a serious long-term affect on her life.

Friday

The following day, the police came again to the community apologising and appealing to the community that they did not mean to start shooting. However for Asive, Nkosinathi, the old man, and everyone else who was traumatised by the incident, their words rang hollow.

Sunday

During a meeting yesterday, the community resolved to write a petition and send representatives of the community of E Section to submit their grievances at Lingelethu West Police Station

The community has resolved to keep meeting everyday to find a way forward that will help the Magodla family and also help other families in the area who are under threat of eviction.

With the support of community members from all over Khayelitsha including QQ Section, TR Section, Makhaza, Mandela Park and other Abahlali baseMjondolo and Anti-Eviction Campaign communities, E Section residents have decided that they will not vote until their grievances are resolved. They have no interested in politicians who are out campaigning and lying to them. Government officials must come to them to resolve their issues at hand: evictions, lack of service delivery, electricity cut-offs, etc. If they come to the community to campaign, they will be kicked out.

Monday

There will be a mass meeting in E Section after 5pm to discuss the way forward. People are welcome to attend in solidarity.

Police and government contempt for the poor

It is clear to us now that the majority of the elite, of government officials and of police have contempt for the poor. To them we are not human beings and we deserve to be evicted, shot and made homeless. To them we are not quite civilised, we are lazy, and we have a culture of non-payment and of violence. But we are none of these things. We are force into rebellion because our jobs are taken away from us, because our homes are taken away from us, and because those from above continue to try to take away our dignity.

In the past few weeks, there have been an increase in evictions all over the Western Cape. The Magodla family is only one example. We have received reports of evictions all over Khayelitsha, Philippi, Gugulethu, etc. The Gugulethu AEC has a list of evictions they have prevented in the Gugulethu area – many of them at the insistence of the big 4 banks. In Gugulethu though, it seems that Standard Bank stands out as the most serious perpetrator of evictions of the poor. But all the banks just want the same thing in the end: money.

On Thursday (unlike Wednesday), the police were out of control. Perhaps they got the message from Zuma and Cele that police can act with impunity just as they did in Ficksburg. But then again, Ficksburg is no anomaly: there were over 1,000 deaths at the hands of SAPS in South Africa last year. The only thing Ficksburg showed us is that on rare occasion police violence might be caught on SABC for the entire country to see.

When will government take action against the banks who are destroying our communities?

When will government take police violence against protesters seriously?

Most police come from poor communities. But most police carry out the directives of the rich, the elite, and the corporations like Standard Bank. We therefore ask police to respect us in the same way that we respect them when they take to the streets in protest at their horrible working conditions, low pay, and substandard training. We ask that police who come from poor communities be in solidarity with us and not allow their managers to force them to shoot-to-kill. All they are doing is killing their own sisters and brothers.

As the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, we send out our condolences and solidarity to the family of Andries Tatane, the community of Ficksburg, and all other communities who have had their friends and neighbours shot and killed during protests since 1994.

For more information, contact these residents of E Section:

  • Mrs Thafeni, Mrs Gulubela and Mrs Njengele @ 0829715840 (witnesses/victims)
  • Nomachina Magodla @ 0797475592
  • Also contact Mncedisi Twalo from the WC-AEC @ 0785808646
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