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The South African Municipal Workers Union is shocked and disturbed that at least 40 people who protested outside Johannesburg Mayor's house last Saturday were refused bail today for unacceptable reasons. These 40, including well-known activists, are now going to be incarcerated in Diepkloof Prison until April 16th 2002.
The court initially wanted to detain all 100 protestors and only later agreed to release about 60 pensioners and children. Many of these pensioners were supposed to collect their pensions this morning. The children had been in jail for almost two days! The bail application for the remaining 40 protestors was turned down on the basis that police still needed time to verify protestors' addresses. This despite the fact that many of the protestors hold down permanent jobs and have residential addresses which can be easily verified, like SAMWU Provincial Organiser, Rob Rees.
It is absurd to SAMWU that the court refused to accept Rees's union work address! SAMWU is dismayed that the state is returning to apartheid practices of holding people in prison for little or no reason. SAMWU has learnt that one member of the Anti-Privatisation who arrived at the Jeppe Police Station to arrange legal assistance for the arrested protestors, was subsequently arrested for protesting even though she was not at the protest. This is illegal. A further example of inconsistent application of the law is that one of Mayor Masondo's bodyguards fired live ammunition into the crowd of protestors. Two people were injured and have laid attempted murder charges against him, yet the police have seemingly not even processed these charges. According to reports, the bodyguard is currently walking the streets of the city as a free man after merely submitting a written statement to police! It was abundantly clear from the TV news on Saturday night that the reason the protest turned ugly was due to the actions of this bodyguard. "We must not lose sight of the fact that evictions, service cut offs and high service charges within an environment of sprialling unemployment have become a feature of the everyday lives of the protestors and many other communities across the country. It is regrettable that the demonstration took an ugly turn but the union calls on the government to address the legitimate demands for basic services that poor communities are making," said SAMWU General Secretary Roger Ronnie. SAMWU calls for the immediate release of all of the protestors.
For comment, contact SAMWU General Secretary on 082 2006799
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