South Africa: Police shoot dead two high school pupils resisting eviction

Report by Anti-Privatisation Forum
Kathorus Concerned Residents (KCR)
Published: 19/02/04

POLICE RESPOND TO COMMUNITY RESISTANCE AGAINST EVICTIONS IN KATHLEHONG BY FATALLY SHOOTING TWO HIGH SCHOOL PUPILS IN THE BACK!

THE BRUTALISATION AND EXPLOITATION OF POOR COMMUNITIES MUST STOP NOW!

On Monday (16th February) two Kathlehong high school pupils, Dennis Mathibithi (17) and Nhlanhla Masuku (15) were brutally gunned down by Ehhuruleni Metro police officers acting in tandem with forces from the sheriff’s office to enforce bank-initiated evictions of poor families - several other community residents were also injured. And what was their ‘crime’? Helping those families, alongside the Kathlehong Concerned Residents, to resist being thrown out of their homes by greedy and callous bankers, with the active support and connivance of local, provincial and national ANC politicians.

The Anti-Privatisation Forum and its affiliate - the Kathorus Concerned Residents (KCR - covering the communities of Kathlehong, Thokoza and Vosloorus on the East Rand, Greater Johannesburg) are angry and outraged. Ten years after the democratic victory of the majority of South Africans, we are still witnessing the wanton killing, harassment and intimidation of the poor majority - by vicious and unaccountable security forces acting on behalf of big capitalists and politicians - for simply exercising their right to protest/dissent and defending their rights to basic socio-economic needs/services. Increasingly, there appears to be nothing ‘new’ about the ‘new’ South Africa - the lives of the poor are expendable, to be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, class greed and the inhuman pursuit of profit.

This is not the first time that such cowardly and brutal attacks have been carried out against the community in Kathlehong. Several times over the last few years, KCR activists and community members have been systematically beaten-up, harassed and treated with utter disdain by security forces, acting on behalf of private banks and the Ekhuruleni (East Rand) Metro, evicting people from their homes. This has happened despite the fact that the KCR has continuously engaged in talks with both the local Metro government and the body representing the private banks - SERVCON - (and continues to do so) in order to reach a conclusive agreement to prevent evictions. The attitude of the politicians and banks has been to ignore the rights and legitimate demands of the community and instead to use an iron fist’ approach without any regard for the human life and dignity of the poor residents they claim to represent and service respectively.

The APF and the KCR demand that the police personnel responsible for these killings be immediately dismissed, arrested and tried for murder. So far, the only action that has been taken is for an officer’s gun to be confiscated and for an ‘investigation’ to be instituted by the Ekhuruleni Mayor. This is simply not good enough and confirms the general contempt with which those in power hold the lives of the poor. The APF and the KCR demand that all evictions be halted immediately and that the ANC politicians in Kathlehong and the Ekhuruleni Metro, as well as SERVCON, address the legitimate demands of the community.

There is a war against the poor going on, not only in Kathlehong, but also across the width and breadth of South Africa. The anger and frustration of poor communities is gaining momentum every day. The APF and all its affiliates pledge to fight this war with all the energy and resources at our disposal.

A LUTA CONTINUA!

For further information contact: Bheki on 073 195-9300 or Dale on 072 429-4086