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Saturday, June 23, 2012
South Africa: RELEASE BHEKI BUTHELEZI
DEMOCRATIC LEFT FRONT
23 June 2012
PRESS STATEMENT: DLF CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF BHEKI BUTHELEZI
The Democratic Left Front (DLF) calls on the South African Police Services to release Bheki Buthelezi with immediate effect. Buthelezi, a leader and activist of the Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) and the DLF, was arrested earlier this morning at his Umlazi home in Durban. The SAPS falsely accused him of intimidating the local ANC councilor. This follows Buthelezi’s role as a key leader and organiser of sustained struggles for service delivery and housing by the residents of Ward 88 in Umlazi. These struggles culminated in a community march held on 08 June 2012. In addition, the community had recently put forward demands for access to land for food gardens and other community development initiatives. During his arrest, the SAPS expressly told Buthelezi to withdraw from his activism against the ANC-led municipality. They also instructed him to block a mass meeting which was scheduled for this morning by Abahlali baseMijondolo (AbM). As a matter of principle, Buthelezi correctly refused to do so. He pointed out to the SAPS that the only way for the struggles and meetings to stop is through government meeting the needs and demands of the community.
The DLF expresses its full solidarity with the people of Ward 88 in Umlazi, the UPM and AbM as they now plan to visit the Umlazi Police Station and meet the Station Commander. The UPM and AbM are also organising legal representation for Buthelezi. The DLF calls on all progressive organisations and activists to condemn Buthelezi’s arrest and call for his release. Letters of protest may be sent to the Umlazi Police Station to the Station Commander: Brigadier M.E. Zondi at fax number: 031 918 8185, and via sms on 082 331 9650.
Buthelezi’s arrest is part of the state’s increasing use of repression and excessive force against social dissent and community protests. This is increasingly so as the neoliberal ANC state continues to fail to transform South Africa. It was the same repression that led the Durban ANC to collaborate with the SAPS to hound the AbM out of Kennedy Road. It was the same ANCYL members attacked DL and UPM activists at the international day of climate action during the COP17 conference in December 2011. This had been done earlier in August 2011 when the Operation Khanyisa Movement’s sole councilor in the City of Joburg and DLF activist, Simphiwe Zwane, was arrested for leading community struggles against poor service delivery in Thembelihle. At its most tragic, this sustained repression led to the killing of Andries Tatane by the SAPS during a protest in Meqheleng in April last year. All this reminiscent of the old apartheid police style tactics to suppress dissent and maintain social control. Taken as a whole, it is clear that there has been widespread intimidation of people wishing to take up their constitutional right to protest, and that this threatens our hard-won democracy. The DLF is extremely concerned about the sustained actions of Jacob Zuma’s ruling elite to enhance the coercive capacities of the state.