Press Statement: End the de facto State of Emergency in Themelihle

31st March 2015

The Thembelihle Crisis Committee, the United Front (UF), the Right to Know (R2K) Campaign and the Democratic Left Front call on all people of good conscience in South Africa to endorse the call for an end to the security siege of Thembelihle. Since the 25th of February 2015, Thembelihle has faced a de facto State of Emergency at the hands of the South African Police Services (SAPS) and other security agents. This undeclared, unofficial State of Emergency in Thembelihle is an attack on all our constitutionally guaranteed rights to and freedoms to organise, associate and freely express ourselves. We call for urgent action to put pressure on the SAPS to end the siege. We call for the creation of conducive conditions for free, open and democratic political activity in which the people of Thembelihle may express and exercise their right to protest, and have their demands for a decent life of dignity met.

We call for concrete and active solidarity with the people of Thembelihle. We call on all to join tomorrow’s Mass Solidarity Meeting (1st April 2015) to end the siege in Thembelihe which will held from 5pm at the “Park Station” community meeting area in Thembelihle.

For many years, the Thembelihle informal settlement (adjacent to Lenasia south-west of Johannesburg) has been a site of unyielding struggles for basic services of housing, water, sanitation and electricity. These are basic needs promised by our country’s constitution. Yet with every struggle the ANC government has never bothered to meet the demands of this community. Instead, it has increasingly opted to use the police as its response.

Since the 25th of February, Thembelihle has seen widespread deployment of heavily armed SAPS members and other security agents to patrol the township. In effect, Thembelihle is living through an undeclared, and therefore illegal State of Emergency due to the SAPS-led security operation with many local leaders in hiding as a result causing incalculable harm and trauma to them and their families. Gatherings of more than three people are broken up and there is harassment of individual activists.

On 25th February 2015, 36 people were arrested with a further 36 arrested a few days later. Of these 17 have been charged and the others released. The 17 facing charges have been granted R1,000 bail each. The DLF has contributed money to bail out two. For the second set of people arrested, R2K Gauteng contributed bail for 4 of them. Another two have been bailed by their families. There are still six who need bail money. Another six have been denied bail and remain in custody due to their being in South Africa ‘illegally’.

All these underline the fact that the Thembelihle crisis is a national emergency. The TCC, the UF, R2K and the DLF firmly believe that the Thembelihle siege represents one of the most severe cases demonstrating that the ANC government is now prepared to use repression and police brutality to stamp out social protest. cases of systematic and sustained police repression against public protest in our post-apartheid democratic South Africa. This is part of the ruling elite’s increasing securotisation of political, social and economic demands of the mass of the people that it has proved incapable and unwilling to resolve. As stated above, the Thembelihle siege goes against everything in a democratic society promised by the 1996 Constitution.

The TCC, UF, R2K and DLF also call on the public to make donations to set up a Legal Defence Fund to raise money for bail and other legal costs immediately for the Thembelihle comrades in custody and other activists who are facing and will face similar repression and action from the police. Donations may be made to this account:
• Account holder: The Right 2 Know
• Bank: Standard Bank
• Account Number: 07 022 865 5
• Branch Code: 020909
• Reference: Thembelihle Legal Defence

Needless to say, this de facto State of Emergency has effectively removed attention away from the service delivery and housing process, and has turned political demands into a security question.

End the siege of Thembelihle!

Siphiwe Segodi – Thembelihle Crisis Committee – 072 655 4177
Mzwonke Mayekiso – United Front Organiser – 074 991 6202
Godfrey Phiri – R2K National Working Group – 078 733 1236
Rehad Desai – Democratic Left Front – 0839979204


DLF Demands End to Police Violence

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

Dated: 26 February 2015


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