SOUTH AFRICA: Raid likened to apartheid era

Issue 

BY NORM DIXON

Residents in Mandela Park, Khayelitsha (near Cape Town), rebelled on July 8 in response to a raid by police and municipal officials. Community anger boiled over when a council sheriff attempted to repossess an elderly pensioner's clothes and furniture to pay R800 (A$130) arrears on her water account.

Burning barricades were erected and municipal vehicles were stoned. In scenes reminiscent of the apartheid era, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at residents. About a dozen residents, including one man who was returning home from work at the time, were arrested. Two juveniles were also grabbed. Max Ntanyana was arrested after police saw him talking to a TV journalist.

Most of those arrested complained that they had been assaulted by police in the cells. The cops refused them access to doctors and lawyers. Many had been injured by rubber bullets. The detained were continually called "kaffirs".

Later in the day, police confronted a crowd of toyi-toying residents, giving them five minutes to disperse. However, police opened fire with rubber bullets two minutes later.

Ten residents appeared in the Mitchells Plain magistrates court on July 9. They were released on bail of R500 (A$80) each, pending a hearing on August 8.

When the 10 left the court, a policeman called them "fucking bushmen". When some Canadian post-graduate research students tried to intervene, the cop threatened them and a Anti-Eviction Campaign legal team with his gun.

In a statement, the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign expressed its "disgust at the approach of the African National Congress, New National Party and the Democratic Alliance towards residents who protest in favour of the free services they were promised in the last election. All parties have failed dismally to deliver and all have united to mimic the tactics of the apartheid police in dealing with resistance to electricity and water cut-offs and evictions."

From Green Left Weekly, July 17, 2002.
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