LETTER: Police brutality on the poor brought back past memories

2016-09-01 06:00

On Monday 29 August, residents of Mfuleni who were protesting at the Bosasa Temporary Housing Settlement, were brutally attacked by police who unleashed clouds of tear-gas and opened fire on them with rubber bullets.

About 27 of the residents, including high school learners, were arrested and severely kicked and punched by police as they inquired about the reasons for their arrest. Even minor children were rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment as a result of tear gas exposure and inhalation.

A sombre mood rests over the community of Mfuleni as residents reflect on the painful Apartheid and pre-democracy struggle memories evoked by this police brutality.

The protest was in response to the No More Free Houses statement from the Democratic Alliance which has taken over Ward 16 in our area.

The Mfuleni Peace Monitors conducted interviews with some of the residents. Some say they had been on the housing waiting lists for more than 12 years.
Others were up in arms over the poor quality of the houses in the Bosasa Temporary Housing Settlement, where they have been occupants for close to six years. One occupant asked how these poor excuses for houses could still be called a temporary measure after six years of occupancy.

Mfuleni is one of the oldest townships in the Western Cape yet vast numbers of its residents are still without formal housing. Many of the residents are unemployed and live below the breadline. It is no wonder then that they reacted to the DA’s statement. The arrested residents appeared in the Blue Downs Magistrate’s court on Wednesday 31 August. The residents will be organising again to occupy the court house in peaceful protest and solidarity with those they feel were unjustly arrested. The community leadership has called for donations from the community to assist with bail fees of the 27 arrested.

Mfuleni Peace Monitors via email

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