Cops ordered to return filmmaker’s property

2012-02-20 09:34

A Mpumalanga filmmaker has won a North Gauteng High Court case against the police to return a video cassette and copies they could have made of a service delivery protest in Sakhile township, near Standerton, three weeks ago.

The police’s tactical response unit confiscated the video cassette from Jabulani Sibeko – a local man who was at the forefront of service delivery protests in the township in 2009.

Sibeko was filming, on February 2, for Onland Productions, which had been following the protests since 2009.
Mpumalanga police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Hlathi said they had to abide by the high court’s decision and had returned Sibeko’s property.

“He was given back his belongings,” Hlathi said.

Sibeko said the police told him they wanted to use his film to identify the protesters.

“I went to court to get my video camera and cassette back and I’m happy that the court ordered them to return all copies they could have made.

“I’ve been doing a documentary film about the protests in this township since 2009,” Sibeko said.
Meanwhile, Mpumalanga has seen a resurgence of violent service delivery protests after residents of six municipalities took to the streets in the past month.

Last week, residents of Masoyi (Hazyview), where Premier David Mabuza grew up, protested for five days as they burned tyres, blockaded roads and looted shops.

Residents of Wesselton (Ermelo) and Zwelisha (Nelspruit) called off their protests after swift intervention by police and municipal councillors.

Most complaints were directed at government’s failure to provide water, electricity, clinics and roads. Some wanted corrupt and underperforming councillors to be fired.

Wesselton and Emakhazeni (Belfast) residents accused power utility giant Eskom and the surrounding mines of passing over locals for jobs.

Protests began in Naas (Malalane) on January 16. They then spread to Mpakeni, near Nelspruit, the following week and to Sakhile, near Standerton, early this month and to Carolina two weeks ago. Last week, Masoyi and Emakhazeni erupted.

Hlathi said about 100 protesters were arrested and charged with public violence in all affected areas.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs spokesperson Simphiwe Kunene said the department did not view the recent unrests as a resurgence of service delivery protests.

“We are concerned about the recent incidents of unrest in some of our communities. However, we do not view this as a resurgence of service delivery protests.

“But there are some areas where communities have got genuine concerns about service delivery issues; in the main it is water provision,” Kunene said.

He said that the department had developed a Provincial Water Master Plan that sought to address the water problems in the province.

Pointing fingers
When protests broke out in 2009 and 2010, warring ANC factions in the province pointed fingers at each other. But this time they have not done so ahead of the upcoming provincial leadership conference.

The ANC Youth League, which previously backed Mabuza, blamed former Mbombela mayor Lassy Chiwayo, ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa and member of the legislature Fish Mahlalela for instigating the protests.

The anti-Mabuza camp claimed that he had fuelled the protests to find reasons to place councils under administration in order to purge mayors and municipal officials who backed his rivals.

Police arrested Sibusiso Mabuza in 2010 for allegedly using different names when he made statements that politicians from both camps paid him to stir up protests. He will appear in court on May 14 on charges of perjury.

Hlathi said the police knew no other motive for the recent spate of protests other than unemployment and poor service delivery.

“What we get is that people are toyi-toying for government services and jobs from mines,” he said.

Paul Mbenyane, ANC spokesperson in the province, said the party respected the residents’ right to protest peacefully but warned that criminals were taking advantage to loot and damage property.

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