protests

protests

  • Thembelihle and the Criminalisation of Dissent

    “We did not just wake up and throw stones, the protest was planned, then police came and started shooting to disperse us,” says Bhayiza Miya, a community activist in Thembelihle, Gauteng. Miya is referring to the community’s 2011 protest, which led to him being arrested five times. During one of these arrests, the 46-year old father was arrested with his five-year old daughter who was kept overnight in a police holding cell with him.

    During the protest, Miya was singled out as a community leader and was detained as a ‘preventative measure’ to stop protests- evidencing how community activists are targeted, bullied and criminalised by the state.

    The Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) latest research output, An Anatomy of Dissent and Repression: The Criminal Justice System and the 2011 Thembelihle Protest documents the lead up to the protest, including the state’s refusal to engage with the community, the protest itself and how in the aftermath thereof; activists and protesting community members were ensnared in the criminal justice system for participating in a legitimate and effective protest action.

    This highlights the intimate relationship between socio-economic rights and civil and political rights. This is due to the manner in which the community utilised their civil and political entitlements to local democratic participation and protest to assert their socio-economic demands, and was reinforced by the state’s clamp down on the civil and political rights of protestors in an attempt to suppress such demands.

    According to Michael Clark, legal researcher and advocacy officer at SERI, the report tries to understand the protest in Thembelihle specifically, but also rising dissent South Africa more generally. For SERI this is crucial as the existing narratives in relation to protest action in South Africa are almost always informed by the moment of protest and is rarely informed by a more comprehensive investigation into the events leading up to the protest and that take place in the aftermath.

    Clark goes on to note that, “The arrest, detention and failed prosecution of the Thembelihle protestors clearly exposes the way in the state apparatus, and particularly the criminal justice system, is utilised to silence dissent and harass and intimidate communities advocating for socio-economic development.”

    Key findings of the report include:
    • We are facing an increasingly unresponsive and remote state which refers specifically to the failure of formal participatory mechanisms to address the concerns of communities. This frequently leads to communities becoming isolated and frustrated, and means that turning to informal and more direct means of engaging, namely protest;
    • When protest occurs, the criminal justice system is not used for the genuine prosecution of criminal activity, but rather to deter and suppress popular dissent; and
    • Most importantly, the report highlights that without civil and political rights, and specifically the right to protest and mobilise collectively, it will be increasingly difficult for poor communities to assert their socio-economic rights.
    Through this report, SERI hopes that by exposing the state’s repressive stance in relation to protests and community mobilisation, the state would reconsider how it responds to protests. “This can be done by creating more democracy participatory spaces where communities can raise their grievances and creating an enabling environment where protests are encouraged to take place in a peaceful and safe manner as opposed to the current restrictive approach,” notes Clark.

    Through telling the story of this particular community, SERI manages to underscore the fact that communities often have long histories of failed attempts at engaging with different levels of the state. In Thembelihle’s case, there were decades of engagement and struggle which provided little relief to the community.

    Koketso Moeti is the national coordinator of Local Government Action, a loose alliance of organisations working to promote democracy, accountability and delivery at local government level.
    Author(s): 
    Koketso Moeti
  • Global March Against Poaching

    Thousands marched in Africa and around the world on 4 October 2014 to pressure governments to do more to stop the poaching industry that many fear is driving rhinos and elephants to the brink of extinction.
     
    The protests, dubbed the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, took place in 136 cities and towns across six continents, from Soweto to Nairobi, and Paris to New York and Tokyo.
     
    In South Africa, which is struggling to stem a rhino poaching crisis, demonstrators gathered across 17 cities.
     
    To read the article titled, “Elephant poaching: thousands march worldwide for wildlife protection,” click here.

    Source: 
    The Guardian
  • Law Used to Clamp Down on Protests

    Report shows that protestors have been unjustly targeted in troubled settlements such as Thembelihle in the Northern Cape.

    Bhayiza Miya, a politically and media savvy leader, has lost six of his teeth and a month of his life to community protests in Thembelihle, where he has been arrested, prosecuted and forcefully warned by police to stay away from big gatherings.

    Miya says that they are planning to go back to the streets, where there will be a peaceful march, however “…The police will come. When they arrive in that situation they will do what they normally do: they will start firing on us to get us to disperse.”

    To read the article titled, “Law used to 'clamp down on dissent',” click here.

    Source: 
    Mail and Guardian
  • NGO Provides Aid to Striking Miners

    Aid organisation, Gift of the Givers is expected to visit the mining areas again where they have been providing striking workers with food parcels for the past five weeks.

    The organisation says though it will continue to provide aid to the most affected families, they have to now dig deep into their coffers to keep on supplying aid. 

    Its spokesperson, Emily Thomas, says it is frustrating that the negotiations to end the strike remain at loggerheads, this is despite concerned parties reaching an agreement on the latest wage offer. 

    To read the article titled, “Gift of the Givers to provide aid to striking workers,” click here.

    Source: 
    SABC News
  • Swazi Police Abduct Pro-Democracy Leaders

    Swaziland police officers have illegally abducted prodemocracy leaders over the weekend, drove them 30 kilometres away, and dumped them to prevent them from taking part in a meeting calling for freedom in the kingdom.

    The police officers staged roadblocks on all major roads leading to Swaziland's main commercial city, Manzini, where protests were to be held.

    The intended protests were part of the annual 12 April commemorations in that country, following King Sobhuza II Royal proclamation dissolving parliament, banning political parties and placing all power in the kingdom in the hands of the monarchy on 12 April 1973.

    To read the article titled, “Police abduct democracy leaders,” click here.

    Source: 
    All Africa
  • Human Rights ‘Taking a Turn for the Worst’ - NGO

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) has issued a ‘warning’ to the South African government, that human rights are ‘taking a turn for the worst’ in the country, citing attacks on the free press and escalating police violence as the main reasons for the regression.

    HRW’s Southern Africa director, Tiseke Kasambala, says that while South Africa remain a ‘beacon of hope’ on the continent, its human rights legacy is gradually being eroded.

    "There is an increasingly violent reaction to peaceful protests in South Africa. It seems that every time there are protests in South Africa, the police are heavy-handed, and use excessive force. We want to see President [Jacob] Zuma and his government make clear that the police must abide by international standards, and use proportionate force," explains Kasambala.

    To read the article titled, “Lethal force: SA warned on human rights,” click here.

    Source: 
    Mail and Guardian
  • CASAC Slams Police for Shooting Protestors

    The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) says the killing of two protesters by police in Mothutlung in Brits, North West, is an outrage.
     
    In a press statement, CASAC states that citizens expected lessons would have been learned and remedial action taken after the killing of Andries Tatane in April 2011, the Marikana shootings in August 2012, and the killing of Mido Macio in Daveyton in February 2013.
     
    “So far no one has been held to account for the killings of Tatane, Macio, and the dead of Marikana. The failure to act against the perpetrators of these killings will only serve to undermine respect for the rule of law,” it warns.
     
    To read the article titled, “CASAC outraged at Brits protester killings,” click here.

    Source: 
    IOL News
  • Food Parcels for Striking Miners

    Thousands of striking miners have gathered at an Amplats platinum mine outside Rustenburg to receive food parcels from a non-governmental organisation, Gift of the Givers.

    The organisation intervened after reports surfaced that members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) are going hungry as the four-month strike drags on.

    Gift of the Givers spokesperson, Emily Thomas, says they are working with the Marikana Community Support group to identify families mostly affected by the on-going strike, adding that the organisation will continue with initiatives to alleviate poverty in the area.

    To read the article titled, “Miners receive food parcels from Gift of the Givers,” click here.

    Source: 
    SABC News
  • SERI Criticises Marikana Commission

    The Marikana Commission of Inquiry has denied that the deletion of a key paragraph from its terms of reference means that cabinet ministers will not be called to testify.

    The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), a non-governmental organisation, is arguing that the deleted clause empowered the commission to investigate the role played by the Department of Mineral Resources and the South African Police Service in the Marikana shootings.

    SERI believes that Police Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, has questions to answer.

    To read the article titled, “Marikana Inquiry, SERI at loggerheads over terms of reference,” click here.

    Source: 
    SABC News
  • Greenpeace Requests Meeting With Putin

    Environmental organisation, Greenpeace, has asked for a meeting with Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, following the arrest of the entire crew of the group’s ship that protested against Arctic oil drilling in Russia.
     
    Greenpeace executive director, Kumi Naidoo, states that he was willing to travel to Moscow at any moment to secure the release of the 30 crew members of the Arctic Sunrise icebreaker.
     
    “We are willing to face the consequences of what we did, as long as those consequences are within a nation’s criminal code as any reasonable person understands that code to be,” he explains.

    To read the article titled, “Greenpeace chief asks to meet Putin after arrests”, click here.

    Source: 
    The Citizen
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