US urged to help make Marikana report public

iol

By Shanti Aboobaker March 19 2015 at 11:54am

Johannesburg – The United Front wants the US to exert its influence by pressuring the South African government to publicly release the final report of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry in full.

The report is to be submitted to President Jacob Zuma at the end of the month, but the government has not committed to making it public. It is possible that only excerpts will be released to the public.

On Wednesday, the United Front convened community activists outside the US Consulate in Sandton in protest against what it calls racist killings in the US.

The event was also a rallying point for residents of Thembelihle in Lenasia who say police have harassed them for the past two weeks.

Kagiso Digopo, a 34-year-old community activist from Thembelihle, showed The Star his wound after police shot him with rubber bullets on Tuesday.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Kay Makhubela said the law allowed police to disperse a crowd with teargas and rubber bullets.

Copy of ST sec shot.JPGKagiso Digopo, 34, said he was shot by police in Thembelihle on Tuesday. He is too scared to lay a charge against the police because he believes they will arrest him for being part of peaceful protests in the area. Picture: Boxer NgwenyaTHE STAR

“If people don’t move from blocking other people (in the road), we will use means of removing them with rubber bullets and teargas,” Makhubela said.

Moses Dlamini, spokesman for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, did not answer his phone on Wednesday.

Digopo said he was too scared to lay a charge because he was wanted for inciting the protests over the lack of water, electricity and housing in the area.

He and several other community activists said they were in hiding after police rounded up activists during the early hours of Wednesday morning.

At least three African-American men have been killed by law enforcement officers in the US in recent months. Michael Brown, 18, was shot dead in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner, 43, was strangled in Staten Island, New York; and Tony Terrell Robinson, 19, was shot dead in Madison, Wisconsin, just 10 days ago.

The police officers who killed Garner and Brown have not been prosecuted despite evidence that the men were not armed.

The struggle against brutal and racial police repression in the US appears to be mirrored in South Africa – as seen in the deaths at the hands of the police of Andries Tatane in Ficksburg and the 34 mineworkers shot dead at Marikana in 2012.

Earlier this month, The Star reported on how police officers in plainclothes shot Mduduzi Nkosi three times in Soweto in what they said was a case of mistaken identity.

United Front Gauteng steering committee member Trevor Ngwane said police action against community protest effectively criminalised people who were demanding basic services.

“Protest is criminalised. When the working class and the poor raise their problems and grievances, the answer they get is violence by the ruling class and the bourgeois state,” he said.

“Capitalism is a violent system – it breeds racism.”

The United Front also called on the US government to put pressure on South Africa to stop “the criminalisation of protest” and to defend the right to protest.

“Use your power and influence to put pressure on the government to release the full report of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the Marikana massacre,” Ngwane told the consulate’s public affairs officer, John Warner.

He said the South Africans who pulled the trigger and the people who pulled the political strings that led to the massacre must be charged, tried and sentenced.

The United Front is a coalition of community activists, civil society, academics, trade unionists and workers, formed after a special national congress resolution of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.

It aims to marry the struggle against oppression faced by those in the workplace with community struggles for basic services such as water, electricity and housing.

The Star