19 July 2011
Democratic Left Front
Press statement: Celebrate the acquittal of the Kennedy Road 12! Investigate the role of the SAPS and the ANC in the September 2009 attack on Kennedy Road
The Democratic Left Front (DLF) salutes the 12 members of Abahlali BaseMijondolo (AbM) from Kennedy Road in eThekwini who were acquitted of all charges of murder. Their arrest and trial followed a September 2009 attack on AbM in the Kennedy Road informal settlement eThekwini. All evidence pointed fingers at ANC-mobilised and police-supported attackers who were heavily armed and used ethnicity part of their strategy. ANC involvement in the attack was confirmed by ANC provincial statements that heralded this attack as the ‘liberation’ of the area. For months after the attack the homes of AbM leaders were openly and publicly attacked with impunity by the local ANC. Many had to leave the area.
Their acquittal is a great day for democracy and for the struggle of the working class and the poor in South Africa. Let all honest strugglers celebrate! Despite the huge political pressure to secure a conviction in this case (that included the setting up of a special task team to oversee the case), the state’s case was shown as without foundation. The judgment showed in clear terms that the state had no evidence or case. In fact clear evidence of an attempted police frame-up emerged in court (four witnesses testified that the police had told them who to point out in the line-up, and one admitted that she had been asked to lie and was lying) and the only two credible witnesses (a local ANC leader and a police officer) both testified to the correctness of the Abahlali account of what happened back in September 2009.
The DLF wishes the Kennedy Road 12 success in their civil case against the Minister of Police. We salute the role played by Bishop Rubin Phillip in standing by a movement under attack and the role of the churches that assisted the movement with legal costs during this trial. We salute those witnesses for the prosecution that had the courage to tell the truth in the court. We salute the perseverance of Abahlali baseMjondolo, who remained united, strong, and steadfast throughout. As Bishop Rubin says “Theirs is the moral strength of those who know who they are, who know what they stand for, and who steadfastly know and speak the truth.”
In the view of the DLF, the Kennedy Road attack displayed the worst in the growing use of repressive brutal measures by the SAPS and the state as a whole in response to social protest and dissent. This also includes the criminalization of social protest. The killing of Andries Tatane in April at a protest in the Meqheleng township was a continuation of this trend. AbM is not the first social movement to have been subject to state repression and will not be the last. But this attack, and the complicity with it by the police and senior ANC leaders in the province, is certainly the worst incidence of repression against a social movement so far in post-apartheid South Africa. It is essential that we all learn the lessons from this attack and that all movements and progressive forces find ways to support each other in this climate of increasing repression.
The DLF calls on the Independent Complaints Directorate, the South African Human Rights Commission and the Public Protector to undertake statutory investigations of the role played by the SAPS in the Kennedy Road. The DLF also reaffirms its call for a People’s Tribunal Against Police Brutality that must lay the foundation for a mass campaign that can mobilise poor and working people to speak out and act against police brutaliy, and challenge the increased militarisation and centralisation of power in an increasingly unaccountable security cluster of the state.
Finally, the DLF notes that the arrest of the Kennedy Road 12 saw a plethora of slanderous comments that sought to delegitimise AbM and the 12 comrades. The acquittal of the 12 is a call on all those who attacked them, including those on the left, to seriously reflect on their motivation and publicly apologise for their disgraceful actions.
FOR COMMENTS, CONTACT:
Brian Ashley – 082 085 0788
Martin Legassick – 083 417 6837
Vishwas Satgar – 082 775 3420
Website – http://www.democraticleft.za.net