Press Statement
By Democratic Left Front
Tsakane and Thembelihle Protests, Arrests and Deaths

Dated: 26 February 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Two separate incidents broke out yesterday, 25th February, one in Tsakane on the Far East Rand and the other in Thembelihle informal settlement on the West Rand. In both cases people have lost their lives and many have been arrested.

In Tsakane, Red Ants, backed up by police, entered the area on Wednesday 25th  and began to disconnect illegal electricity connections. In the process several women and children were beaten and a crowd gathered, angered by the violence.

The police chased people to Duduza Taxi Rank, one of the busiest taxi ranks in the Far East Rand, where they opened fire with rubber bullets. Two school children were shot: one is dead, the other critically injured.

Fifteen people have been arrested. Some of them were not part of the protest, including two nurses (still in uniform) who were on their way home . Those arrested will appear in Tsakane Magistrates Court on Friday 27.

In Thembelihle, one man lost his life and four others were injured on Thursday morning when a Lenasia resident, opened fire from his front garden, spraying live bullets into a crowd that had gathered to protest over lack of housing.

The protests continued into the night and throughout Thursday 26th February. The numbers of arrests currently stand at 34, including six children. One of the women arrested was shot in the back at point blank range by a police rubber bullet. She is now in hospital. Those arrested are to be charged with public violence and likely to appear in Lenasia Magistrate Court on Monday morning. Lawyers from the Socio Economic Rights Institute are representing those arrested.

The protest began on Monday morning at 4am following a decision made at a community meeting the previous day (Sunday).  On Tuesday 24th, the Thembelihle Crisis Committee, an affiliate of the DLF, met with a representative of the housing department and appealed to him to come and address the community. When this request was refused, residents called a mass meeting where it was decided to organize a peaceful protest.  But, as has been the case across the country, the police violently disrupted the protest, triggering mayhem in the community.

Fighting between the police and the community continues on Thursday night and there are reports of several people being shot with rubber bullets. Many of those arrested are community leaders, people who play an advocacy role and restore calm to a community that is desperate to be heard.

A few days ago a handful of residents attacked foreign-owned shops in the area. The TCC which helped organize an anti-xenophobia public meeting a few weeks ago, intervened to stop these attacks. Now the leaders of this organization are being arrested by the police.  The TCC has been clear that it is the local municipality that has left people in a state of desperation.

We demand:

An end to police violence against poor communities and their organisations.

The immediate release of those detained.

That the police charge the Lenasia resident accused of shooting and killing protesters.

 For further information contact:

Tsakane: Tebza  082 401 9185

Thembelihle: Siphiwe  076 250 1618

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