Police brutally supress peaceful march in Durbanimc-durban 15 Nov 2005 07:07 GMT
Initially, the march proceeded peacefully up Loon Road. At the top of the road, marchers were met by a police cordon at the intersection of Loon Road and Locksley Road. At least 2000 people were up against the police barrier. Witnesses did not observe the mandatory five-minute warning being given before police charged the crowd with riot shields, backed up by riot trucks, plucking individuals at random for arrest. The crowd fled back down Loon Road, towards Foreman Road settlement.
Police officers chased the marchers into the Foreman Road settlement, firing rubber bullets, charging with batons, and arresting protesters in the process. Witnesses saw cameras, phones and money taken from protestors by the police. Five people were arrested at the front line and approximately 10-15 minutes later at least one more van left the scene, filled with arrested protestors; as of 2pm, a total of 13 people were detained at Sydenham Police Station, though witnesses have seen more police vans filled with people from informal settlements. As of Monday night, all those arrested were released.
One of the first arrestees was System Cele, a 19 year-old elected committee member from nearby Kennedy Road settlement, attending the march with her young baby. She was seen in good health as she was arrested and marched to a police van. She reported that police pushed her around, demanding that she reveal S’bu Zikode as the person making people march. When she said that there were people marching all over the world, and that S’bu could not be inciting them all, they assaulted her, and in the process broke her teeth on the pavement, necessitating dental treatment. As Ms. Cele pointed out, S’bu and other leadership had told those gathered that the march would be illegal, and had advised that there would be consequences, but no one could have foreseen the ferocity of the police response.
The quarantine of the Foreman Road settlement continues. At one point, an effigy of Mayor Mlaba was burned in front of the police, giving off black, oily smoke.
The March on Mayor Mlaba was organised by the Foreman Road Development Committee to demand land and housing in the city and to protest against forced removals and the ongoing removal of basic services from shack settlements. It was decided to march under the slogan of No Land, No House, No Vote. On Wednesday, 9 November more than 5 000 people attended a mass rally in support of the march in the Foreman Road settlement.
Media coverage of on-going events at Foreman Road is urgently needed; please contact those listed below for comment. Note that South Africa's international dailing code is 27. Bail funds are also needed; contact Fazel Khan (084 577 8627) for details. Finally, please email City Manager Mike Sutcliffe firstname.lastname@example.org to protest the brutal suppression of today's march.
For comment please contact:
Mnikelo Ndabankulu, Foreman Road Development Committee, 07356565241
Another eyewitness account from Alan Murphy.