POLITICS, POLICING AND PRIORITIES FOR 2010

Despite widespread concerns about violence tight security around the April elections ensured that they proceeded relatively peacefully. Politically-linked conflict did not, however, disappear after the elections, and nor was there any significant change in well-established patterns of other forms of violent crime. Although drastic improvements in policing can reduce crime it is only when South Africans learn to stop using violence as a means to solve their everyday problems that our society will become safer for all.

Post election political violence

Following the elections there were a number of incidents involving attacks on ANC and IFP supporters, especially in the Greytown area where two of those murdered were councillors (one ANC, one IFP).

During May COPE supporters at Glebelands hostel in Durban were allegedly assaulted and forced out of their rooms by ANC supporters. The ANC claimed that activities at the hostel were directed at criminals. There have been a number of arrests and court cases are pending.

Violence in the Kennedy Road informal settlement, which started on 26 September with attacks on homes and the deaths of two residents also appears to have political overtones. This settlement was a base for a non political party activist group representing the interests of shack dwellers, Abahlali baseMjondolo. This movement has successfully challenged the KZN Slums Act, which was struck down by Concourt in October. Office bearers and supporters of Abahlali were targeted in the attacks and driven out of the settlement. Credible evidence points fingers at certain ANC representatives, but the party maintains that motives were criminal. Church leaders and Amnesty International have called for an impartial Commission of Enquiry into what happened.

Ethnic overtones to the violence in Glebelands and Kennedy Road are alleged, with Xhosas (COPE) targeted. Similarly, there were a number of attacks against non-South Africans, the most serious taking place on 4 January when a sizeable group of armed people proceeded past the police station in the centre of Durban, in full view of the police, and attacked foreigners in a nearby building, forcing some out of windows. Two men died. Among those arrested and facing charges of public violence is the local ANC councillor. The police have maintained that the action against foreigners was an ‘anti crime’ one.  Do police and politicians not know that anti-crime activities should be undertaken by the SAPS, not by armed vigilante mobs?

Crime and policing

Among those targeted by well armed criminals are police members, with the most recent figures showing that 105 have died country wide in the line of duty ( 237 died in 1995). Calls by politicians and the newly appointed national SAPS commissioner  to ‘shoot to kill’ were accompanied by announcements of pending amendments to governing legislation to give police more powers.  Since the police already have the power to defend themselves when attacked, the purpose of the rhetoric, and mooted legislative change, is not clear. Given the serious problems within the SAPS itself such calls could encourage further abuse of power by ill-disciplined, corrupt members.

Recent events show the best and worst of policing. Following a shootout in Gamalakhe, Margate, Inspector Trevor Moodley, although injured, assisted two injured colleagues (on of whom has since tragically died) to safety. However, in Howick a local policeman, with an alleged history of corruption, was among those charged for the murder of prominent farmer Warwick Dorning, having been found in possession of Dorning’s stolen property. The SAPS has many hard working, honest members who risk their lives on a daily basis. Their safety is further jeopardised by the large number of criminals masquerading as police members. Among the many crimes of which police members were accused and/or convicted during 2009 were murder, rape, armed robbery and defeating the ends of justice. Forensic evidence shows that SAPS members still routinely torture suspects. It is likely that members charged and convicted represent the tip of the iceberg of police corruption.

Co-inciding with calls to shoot to kill a record number of people died at the hands of the police. The right of police to shoot back when under attack, as in Gamalakhe, is not disputed. The problem is that given the levels of corruption in the service there is good reason to believe that police members may execute people who could expose their own nefarious activities. In many cases there are no independent witnesses, and those killed are described as ‘suspects’, many of whom might never have been convicted in a court of law.  Despite condemning vigilantism, the police are in some instances bypassing the criminal justice system..

Priorities for 2010

Criminality in the SAPS should be addressed urgently, especially through strengthening the Independent Complaints Directorate.  Transgressors should be dismissed, not simply reshuffled. Poor performance and ill-discipline must be addressed urgently – not by reverting to apartheid military ranks but by proper management, so clearly lacking in far too many stations.

Not nearly enough has been done about illegal weapons, with most of the caches which flooded into the province during the 1980s and 1990s unaccounted for. It is not enough to remove and destroy illegal weapons : It is essential to expose the networks through which these weapons are obtained. How do taxi men obtain police/military issue R5 rifles, often used in taxi conflict?

Police management should stop wasting taxpayers money – on a private jet, and on a magazine to improve the image of police (which would improve itself if all police did their jobs properly). Such funds should be diverted to resources, including bullet proof vests, for police members.

The problem of violence goes beyond policing – it starts with what children learn in their homes and schools. There can be no progress until something is done about the appalling levels of violence, including rape, directed against women and children, including by partners, parents and teachers. The development of conscience hinges on decent parenting and research has shown that most children grow up with a conspicuous lack of appropriate role models. The longer we take to stop abusing children, and teaching them that there are far more constructive ways to solve problems than the use of violence, the longer it will take for South Africa to escape from the vicious cycle of violence in which we remain trapped.

Notes:

See also full reports on election-related violence

Police deaths in 1995 from South Aflrican Human Rights Yearbook 1996 ed Louw et al, Centre Sociolegal Studies, Durban, 1998

WANTED: A New Broom To Sweep The SAPS Clean

Having signalled that it is serious about reducing crime, the new government has prioritised improvements to policing. There are plans to use unemployed youth and street committees to assist the police, compounding existing problems. What is needed is a new broom to sweep policing clean and lead to real (not token) transformation of this apartheid era edifice.  Anti crime strategies will stand or fall on what is done – or not done – to stop the policing rot. The role of the national commissioner is pivotal.

Proposals to use unemployed youth and street committees as eyes and ears of the police are deeply flawed. The problem is that the police do not necessarily use information they already receive. There is a tendency for anti-crime groupings to resort to vigilantism, which may be linked to the failure of the police to act against known criminals.

The SAPS may also fail to exercise proper control over civilians supposedly assisting them. They have, on occasion, allegedly condoned their illegal actions.  In January 2009 an armed group proceeded past a central Durban police station – in full view of members – and launched an attack in which three foreigners died. The police subsequently described what had happened as an anti-crime operation. To make matters worse, alleged violent attacks on COPE supporters in Glebelands hostel are described by local politicians as ‘anti-crime’ activities. Do they not know that it is the job of the police, and not members of the public, to conduct such operations?  There are also cases of police referring people who seek their help to councillors or traditional leaders.

More stringent criteria are needed in selecting reservists, who may receive preference in SAPS recruitment. Criminal record checks are, in themselves, insufficient to assess moral character, especially as many criminals are never convicted. Recently three reservists were arrested for the murder of another reservist who was to give evidence in a case in which fifteen guns had been stolen at a joint SAPS/Metro operations centre. Management has thus far failed to answer questions about who was in charge of them.

There are unconfirmed reports of persons who have undergone paramilitary training being incorporated into the reserve force. These trainees have reportedly been instructed in unlawful activities (ambushing) and have also been subject to political indoctrination.  KZN has history of political partisanship in policing, which allegedly continues in some areas (perhaps because former KZP have fared better in racial transformation than black former SAP members). Now there are allegations that the police have failed to intervene to halt attacks on COPE members by ANC supporters in Glebelands. Political partisanship of any type has no place in policing.

Police management must also take responsibility for high levels of corruption and poor performance within the service itself. The disappearance of guns from SAPS and Metro police custody is not unusual. In 2008, 3 760 (43 from one station alone) went missing.  Of the 8 286 which disappeared during the past three years only 900 have been recovered. Small wonder that police members themselves regularly come under fire from well armed criminals. It would be far more constructive if ministers, instead of undermining the criminal justice system by exhorting police to ‘shoot to kill’ (italics added), were seen to be holding management accountable for missing guns.

Allegations that corruption – including in recruitment, promotions, and docket disappearances – is rife within the SAPS appear well founded. Promotions have long been a contentious issue : A number of people who are not fit to be in the SAPS, let alone hold management positions, have risen rapidly through the ranks while others, with proven track records, are not recognised or rewarded. There seems little doubt that some police members are involved in taxi businesses, or operate private security companies, through fronts. There is not much incentive to fight crime if one is benefitting from it through taxi or security interests. There are also serious allegations by police members, fearful for their own lives, that some of their colleagues engage in criminal activities.  Persons arrested by the police may continue to suffer abuse, including assault and ‘tubing’,

Nor are the bodies which are supposed to monitor police performance and investigate complaints – the well resourced civilian secretariat, and the national inspectorate of the SAPS – effective. The ICD is grossly under-resourced relative to the sheer scale of serious cases which it should be investigating.  What transparency there was in policing has decreased, with the police failing to provide public interest information.  In the immediate post-1994 period, unlike now, proper responses were received to letters, and statistical information was available. 1996 media releases by the SAPS, for example, provide totals of people killed in the province over a 24 hour period. The failure of the SAPS to supply public information suggests either incompetence, or that there is something to hide.

The deficiencies in policing appear to be in human rather than financial resources. Although stations may claim a lack of vehicles to respond speedily to crimes, a recent study disputes this assertion. Allegations that vehicles are used for private business continue. Resources are squandered when innocent people are, not infrequently, maliciously arrested. Is it really necessary for detectives, who spend much of their time in the field, to occupy suites of expensive offices, with a whole floor of prime parking space reserved for them? Would the money not be better spent on bullet proof vests for vulnerable members?  Until policing is overhauled, an offer by a businessman to pump R1 billion into crime prevention would be throwing good money after bad.

There is no indication that different levels of management are being held accountable for these problems – problems which endanger the lives, wellbeing and morale of the many conscientious, hard working police members as well as the general public. Long standing members complain that discipline within the SAPS has declined seriously. Surely it is time for some heads to roll?

The appointment of a national commissioner will speak volumes about whether the government is serious about crime and corruption. The national commissioner should be a person impeccable integrity with strong, hands on leadership skills and a proven track record as a manager and administrator of a complex bureaucracy. The appointee should not have a high political profile, given the urgent need to de-politicise – and professionalise – the SAPS.  A revamp of oversight bodies is also long overdue. The question is, does the will exist to wield that broom?

Election Day Overview 2009

This overview is based solely on reports made to KZN Monitor, so it is by no means comprehensive and does not necessarily cover known hotspots which were the subject of much media and monitoring attention.

The nature of most complaints

The majority of complaints related to alleged infringements of electoral rules relating to the ban on political canvassing around the polling stations and unauthorised party supporters (i.e. identifiable by their apparel) entering the voting area. Allegations of insulting and intimidatory behaviour at the entrance to the voting area were also common. Areas from which reports of this nature were received, during the daylight hours, were

  • Mthengwani near Murchison and Ward 24 outside Gamalakhe (south coast)
  • Nhlabankosi (agricultural training centre, Umzumbe, south coast)
  • Macambini (Mshoko High School, Ward 1 area, Nyoni)
  • Muden (Zibambaleni hall and other polling stations)
  • Mahlabatini
  • Aphaphini High School, Ward 1, Sweetwaters, Pietermaritzburg
  • Nobande school, Sweetwaters
  • Zezokuhle Primary School, Ward 1, Mpumuza, Pietermaritzburg

Towards nightfall, fears were expressed at Ocheni, Maphumulo, that tensions between IFP and ANC might erupt into violence, but it seems that political intervention defused the situation. The local station commissioner attended the situation and reported that all was well.

More serious incidents

In two other areas, however, tensions had increased considerably by early evening, leading to calls for the deployment of more police (see below).

In the Sweetwaters area, where intimidation and threat were rife prior to the elections (and in previous elections), and irregularities had been alleged during the day, the ANC alleged that death threats had been made against them, and that they felt very unsafe because the police posted at the different polling stations were taking no action against persons who were breaking the law.

At the Nogide polling station, which falls under uMsinga district, the ANC’s election co-ordinator in the area Bhazuka Dladla and two party supporters (female) were allegedly beaten by IFP supporters. Dladla was assisted by police in leaving the area, and required medical attention. A case has been opened.

In Pongola, ANC councillor Busi Mvelase was allegedly threatened with death by IFP supporters in the evening. She called the police and they did respond.

In the eHlabeni area of Bulwer (which is also serviced by the Creighton SAPS) a local man who has reportedly received military training, Shayamamba Zulu, allegedly beat people at the polling station and damaged property (he is also alleged to have committed other crimes). He was arrested by the SAPS.

Security force performance

There seems little doubt that the presence of significant numbers of security force personnel from outside of affected areas has played a major role in securing largely peaceful elections. Independent observers and monitors, too, played an important role. In known hot spots such as Pongola, Muden and Macambini, mention was made of police from outside of the area making positive interventions in the face of threat or electoral laws being broken.  Macambini residents, in particular, were most grateful for the deployment of army personnel.  There have also been positive interventions by local police, including in the Maphumulo area.

However, the fact that in a number of areas electoral laws were allegedly broken in the presence of the police is a cause for concern. Once again it seems that more police may be deployed in urban area polling stations than at remote rural stations where there is far more risk to electoral officers, party agents and voters. The police deployed at Nogide station (uMsinga) are alleged to have left the station before the counting started.  In the case of Sweetwaters and Mpumuza it was necessary to contact the Plessislaer station commissioner and request that he personally check on all the stations, in the light of allegations which were being made about police inaction.

Calls for more police to be deployed came as darkness descended, but the election deployment had already stretched police resources to the limit.  Short of exceptional circumstances such calls would not be necessary if the police at polling stations were seen to be doing their jobs – and to be calling for assistance themselves if there were a need for it.  It is not acceptable that electoral officials, party agents and, in some cases, voters, should fear for their lives during the evening hours, when the voting is winding up and votes are being counted.  The lesson for future elections is that there must be systems in place to ensure that police do what they are supposed to do – and that all station commissioners are easily accessible and able to respond to complaints personally, and without delay, given their responsibility as management.

Although the voting is over the threat of violence remains, especially during the period that election results are being announced.  It is imperative that security forces remain deployed to prevent any violent reactions during this period.

Pre-Election Update

During the past few days the following reports have been received :

Macambini

All ANC election posters have been removed altogether. On Saturday 18 April residents of Ward 1, a strongly ANC supporting area, alleged that they have been threatened with attack.

Maphumulo

While there has been a general improvement in the situation relative to previous elections an unfortunate incident on 19 April has fuelled tensions in Ward 11.

An ANC official while making announcements with a loudhailer used insulting and extremely provocative language about the local, IFP supporting, traditional leader. Understandably the leader and his supporters are angry about the insult and, although the ANC has reportedly undertaken to take disciplinary steps against the official concerned, there are fears that his utterances may spark some sort of retaliation.

KwaDukuza

On 16 April three houses, reportedly belonging to ANC supporters, were burnt in Lindelani, and the IFP allegedly blocked the ANC from campaigning in the area. Like Macambini, this area has historically been a ‘no go’ one for the ANC. It is also alleged that persons who underwent paramilitary training at eMacambini in 2006 (see www.violencemonitor.com )have been deployed at Lindelani and at Ntshaweni

Sweetwaters and Mpumuza, Pietermaritzburg

No action has apparently been taken by the Plessislaer SAPS in connection with cases of intimidation and injury. It is alleged that a police member who is not based at Plessislaer, and who is related to persons allegedly involved in intimidation, has been interfering in the case of assault opened by Muzi Sokhela.  According to ANC supporters in Ward 1, Mpumuza, there have been threats that they will be targeted on voting day 22 April. They are fearful and begging for security force deployment.

Umzumbe area

On Friday 17 April three ANC supporters were injured and required medical attention after a car, allegedly driven by an IFP supporter, drove into them. Those injured were Phyllis Mbele, aged 56, Nomusa Shinga, aged 22, and Solomon Hlongwa, aged 36.  The ANC also claims various incidents of harassment and threat, including in kwaNdelu.

Lower South Coast

During the period 18-20 April there have been reports from Nositha (inland from Margate) and Mtombothi (near Lamont in kwaXolo area near Margate) that IFP supporters, allegedly from another area, have been sjambokking people wearing ANC T-shirts. Cases are being opened with the police.

SECURITY FORCE DEPLOYMENT

Based on pleas for assistance from various areas the following are among those* in need for additional security force patrols and the deployment of independent observers/monitors

  • PONGOLA
  • NONGOMA/ULUNDI/MAHLABATINI
  • MACAMBINI
  • KWA DUKUZA
  • MSINGA
  • MUDEN
  • GREYTOWN
  • WASCHBANK
  • ESTCOURT
  • EDENDALE, ESPECIALLY MPUMUZA AND SWEETWATERS

In some of these areas, including Nongoma/Mahlabatini, Macambini and Waschbank, security forces from elsewhere in the province or country have already been deployed.

There is also a need to deploy some additional police members near specific polling stations in which, based on the current situation, people are fearful that violence may occur. Ideally, police who are not from the area concerned should be deployed in actual or potential trouble spots.

UMZUMBE (Wards 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18)

MAPHUMULO Ward 11, especially the OCHENI area

MARGATE – Nositha, and Mtombothi (near Lamont, kwaXolo) voting district

What is absolutely critical is that

  • security force patrols maintain high visibility and are seen to be moving around in the volatile areas
  • they remain in the areas until after the announcement of election results
  • they can be easily contacted by persons in the affected communities, or those who are monitoring the election process
  • there are regionally based components which can respond quickly if there are problems in a specific area on voting day itself

*This list is based on experience in recent weeks. However, there are a number of areas which are relatively quiet at present, including around Eshowe and Melmoth, in which there may still be election-related violence – and hence the need for rapid response police units

Pre Election Violence

Trends evident in post-democracy elections, including in the 2004 national elections, and the 2006 local government elections, continue in this 2009 pre-election period.  Several political party members have been murdered, or attempts have been made on their lives, and intimidation and threat is rife in a number of areas.

Deaths

Several politically-aligned people have been murdered, but it is not known whether all the deaths are linked to inter-party tensions. There do appear clear political overtones in the killings in the volatile areas of Nongoma, Muden and Msinga. Those who died are:

  • IFP youth leader Bhekinkosi Dube who was shot dead during early January at Mtubatuba
  • Umgababa ANC Youth Chairperson Sthembiso Cele on 23 January
  • ANC supporter Bongani Khumalo was killed near Benedectine Hospital, Nongoma, during early March. An IFP councillor has been arrested in connection with the murder
  • IFP councillor at Umlalazi, Eshowe, gunned down outside his Gingindlovu home on 25 February
  • ANC supporter Vusi Gaza died of injuries sustained after an ANC rally on 7 March  during an attack by alleged IFP supporters at Msinga
  • Senior IFP organiser Ntokozo Zondi murdered near Esikhawini while driving home
  • Muzi Zuma aka Mbambo shot dead at Muden on 25 March
  • Thulani Justice Gumede, a disabled man, was shot and stabbed to death in the kwaNdwalane area near Paddock on or around Sunday 29 March. His death followed alleged threats that people would be killed if they wore ANC clothing. His ANC T-shirt had been removed when his body was found. Two men have been arrested and are in prison. One is from the kwaNdwalane area, and had reportedly been away to receive paramilitary training prior to the killing. His co-accused is from kwaNongoma, and it is not known whether he too had received training at the Mlaba camp or elsewhere (the recent paramilitary training at Mlaba camp was shut down by the SAPS in August 2008. 473 men were arrested and released bail

A few days after she had attended an ANC rally at Umzimkhulu on 8 March, Creighton resident Thuliisile Memela was murdered by her IFP supporting ex-boyfriend Michael Dlamini, who then killed himself.

Although the brutal assassination, in Umlazi, of Msinga Inkosi and Jacob Zuma ally  Mbongeleni Zondo on 23  January appeared linked to political contestation in his area it also appears connected to taxi conflict in the region.

Violent incidents, threat and intimidation and intolerance : Problem areas

While there have been isolated incidents of alleged intimidation and removal of posters involving different political parties, most of the reported incidents involve ANC/IFP conflict.

NORTH

PONGOLA

There is a contest over traditional leadership in this area, in which historical records reinforce the claim by Inkosi Mahlobo,  and political affiliation overlaps with this contest. ANC supporting Inkosi Mahlobo has survived previous attacks on his life, and remains under threat. There have also been allegations of political intimidation in nearby Belgrade.

In Ncotshane township there have been a number of incidents, including the removal and defacing of ANC posters. In mid February two ANC supporters were injured in a hit and run accident and two IFP supporters, including the son of the mayor, were arrested and given bail. According to the police, the father of one of those arrested was also charged for assaulting a police member. Mfundo Mncwango, one of those arrested, was subsequently alleged to have stabbed ANC supporter Xolani Dlamini, and he has been re-arrested.  ANC councillor Busi Mvelase, who has suffered threats to her life at various periods during the past fifteen years is once again under threat, as is fellow ANC councillor Luke Nxumalo.

NONGOMA/MAHLABATINI AREA

ANC leader Matobelo Ngcobo was injured on 31 January and, on the following day, the car in which ANC representative Prince Zeblon Zulu and his relatives were travelling home after an ANC rally in the area came under fire and three people were injured. There have been arrests in respect of these incidents.  The ANC had held a rally at KwaSeme, and the IFP had held its rally at eMona. IFP supporters had allegedly intimidated ANC supporters bussed into the area, and stoned buses. A large police contingent dispersed IFP supporters blockading the road into Nongoma.

The IFP has accused the SAPS National Intervention Unit deployed in the area of harassing, intimidating and threatening party supporters.

MELMOTH

There is continuing conflict in the kwaBiyela area. Although described as faction fighting there are clear political overtones. ANC supporters claim that posters are taken down, and that they are subject to severe intimidation. The house of Mr Ngema (ANC) was burnt down on 25 February and he has fled the area.

NGOYE

There have been ongoing clashes between IFP and ANC supporting students at the university, At least eleven students have been injured – some reportedly being forced out of windows – and several required hospitalisation. A police task force has been deployed in the area following the failure of the local police to deal with the situation

MACAMBINI

This is a notorious no-go area for the ANC (see Monitor reports at www.violencemonitor.com ) . The party waited until recently to place its posters. Some have been removed but most are reportedly still in place.

KWADUKUZA

On Sunday 29 March ANC supporters were attacked while canvassing in the Chris Hani shack area of Ntshaweni, allegedly by IFP supporters, including a man whose name has been linked to political violence for the past fifteen years. Three were injured and hospitalised.

On Monday 13 April COPE members canvassing in the iTete area were threatened by ANC supporters, including one who was wielding a rifle (name known). A case has been opened with the SAPS

NORTH INLAND

WASCHBANK

The ANC allege that its supporters in Richterfontein have been subject to threat and intimidation by IFP councillors, and that an SAPS patrol has been deployed in the area.

WEENEN

A Department of Agriculture meeting held in the Sahlumbe area on 24 March was allegedly disrupted by IFP supporters who damaged property and attacked people. Three people were reportedly arrested and charged

MSINGA

While an ANC rally in the Msinga area on 7 March proceeded peacefully, a party supporter who alighted from a bus to walk to his home after the rally was allegedly chased by IFP supporters, including a councillor, to the end of a cliff, which he was forced over. It took hours for Emergency Services to reach him and rescue him and he died in hospital a week later of his injuries.

POMEROY

The car of people using a loudhailer to announce a function attended by the MEC for Local Government and Traditional affairs was allegedly stoned by IFP supporters on 7 April. A man has been arrested by the local police.

MUDEN/GREYTOWN

ANC supporters were allegedly beaten by IFP supporters after they had met in the Nkanini area on 15 March. Ward 4 Councillor Jeffrey Ngobese and other ANC activist remain in fear of their lives (see report on meeting disruption).  ANC supporter Muzi Zuma aka Mbambo was shot dead at his home on 25 March.

In another incident during the latter part of March an ANC supporter was knocked over by a vehicle linked to the IFP, and she was hospitalised. The IFP opened a case against her for allegedly removing posters. Both she and the person accused of driving into her have been arrested.

The incidents in Muden appear closely connected with events in the Enhlalakahle Township, Greytown, on 22 March when ANC members who had been campaigning in the township, as well as community members, were attacked by alleged IFP supporters, including councillors. Property was badly damaged, and a number of people were injured. ANC supporter Dumisani Mshibe was badly injured : After an attempt to shoot him failed he was deliberately run over, allegedly by a car driven by an IFP supporter. He remains in hospital, in a critical condition.

According to the IFP, about 500 ANC supporters prevented the IFP from campaigning in Enhlalakahle township in Greytown on Sunday 5 April, when they had blockaded the road and stoned the IFP cars. A case has been opened with the SAPS. According to the police, the IFP retaliated by firing shots, and that police vehicles and private cars were damaged by stones.

Also on Sunday 5 April three ANC supporters were injured and required medical treatment after allegedly being stoned by IFP supporters – reportedly in the presence of the police – in the Muden area.

MIDLANDS

MAQONQO (TABLE MOUNTAIN)

Towards the end of March ANC supporter, surname Khuzwayo, was stabbed by alleged IFP supporters, one of whom has been arrested. Mr Khuzwayo is still in hospital.

EDENDALE (PIETERMARITZBURG)

According to ANC supporters there were disruptions during voter registration weekend in February, and when the ANCYL held a meeting in the Sweetwaters area on 15 March (see separate report). A number of cases of intimidation have been opened, including by Mr Majozi (whose son was allegedly threatened at the school gates, and fears to attend school), Mr Mngadi (a former IFP member who has switched political allegiance) and Mr Mthalane (Mr Mngadi’s neighbour).  A local IFP councillor, against whom a number of cases have been opened during the past few years, was allegedly one of those involved in these incidents, including one in which a gun was brandished.

A community meeting in Edendale over the weekend of 28/29 March was allegedly disrupted by IFP supporters travelling in a motorcade. A young man received medical treatment after being stabbed, allegedly by a person in the motorcade.

According to ANC supporters in Ward 1, Mpumuza, IFP supporters, including a local councillor are intimidating ANC supporters and threatening to attack them. Muzi Sokhela needed medical attention after he was assaulted on Sunday 12 April and a case has been opened.

ELANDSKOP

On 11 April shots were allegedly fired at the Elandskop home of IFP leader David Ntombela by ANC supporters campaigning in the area. The ANC disputed the IFP version of what had happened and also claimed that  two of its members were hospitalised after being attacked by IFP supporters after the incident near Ntombela’s house.

ESTCOURT

The IFP was accused of attempting to disrupt a Department of Agriculture meeting in the NTABAMHLOPE area on 21 February.

During by-elections on4 March two people were shot and injured during clashes between IFP and ANC supporters. A number of cars were also damaged

SOUTH COAST

SCOTTBURGH

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) alleges that its provincial chairman was attacked while putting up posters in the Malangeni ward on 19 March

LOWER SOUTH COAST

In February a case was opened by ANC supporters in kwaXolo after alleged assault by the local IFP Youth Chairperson.

On Saturday 4 April ANC supporters campaigning in Margate were allegedly attacked by IFP supporters armed with ‘traditional’ weapons who had been bussed into the area from elsewhere. Taxi rank manager Bonga Mkhize was badly assaulted and has opened a case with the police.

On 7 April a man wearing an ANC T-shirt was assaulted with an IFP flag, allegedly by an IFP councillor – who was arrested and released on warning – in Port Shepstone.

OTHER INCIDENTS

COPE alleged intimidation by the ANC in Estcourt (a case opened with police) and Gamalakhe (Lower South Coast), and claims its posters have been removed in Mandeni.

The ANC alleges that it saw a poster being removed by a DA supporter in the Bluff area, Durban. The ACDP opened a case with the Umzinto SAPS after its posters were defaced, allegedly by ANC supporters. The Democratic Alliance alleges that the ANC has defaced its posters in Copeville, Pietermaritzburg.

Sources of reports

These reports are received mainly from persons in the affected areas, but media reports are also included.  The IFP has been invited to submit details of incidents targeting its members to the Monitor.

Human Rights Day 2009: Stand Up For Your Rights South Africans

As we celebrate our fifteenth Human Rights Day we should reflect on our failure to build a broadly based human rights culture as a bulwark against the threatened erosion of constitutional rights. A year after the advent of democracy the late legal academic Etienne Mureinik drew attention to the way in which what he termed ‘irrational responses’ to brutal crime posed a threat to human rights.*  Fourteen violent years later attitudes have hardened, and populist politicians garner support with threats to curtail existing rights.  Blaming human rights for our social ills serves to deflect attention from their own responsibility for failing to curb crime.

Seductive as the crime weary public may find exhortations to ‘shoot to kill’, and threats to clamp down on the rights of those arrested, support for such utterances is extremely dangerous. Not only do they undermine the rule of law, but any diminution of existing rights can only facilitate the creeping abuse of power by the state. There is nothing wrong with the law : It is the way that it 8is being implemented (or often not implemented) that presents problems. Transparency and public accountability have diminished in the past decade, with many civil servants showing an arrogant disregard for the taxpayers who fund their salaries. The Land Claims Commission refuses to provide documentation to which the public is entitled and the SAPS fail to respond to queries and to provide information which is in the public interest.

Existing laws giving flesh to the bare bones of constitutional freedoms are crucial since they can be used to hold government accountable, including through class actions.  However, with certain exceptions, the type of civil liberties groupings that drive such processes in well established democracies are not strongly developed in South Africa. Surely the threats which have been made to the freedoms and rights we now take for granted should serve as a wake up call to oppose their erosion?

The topical issue of privacy illustrates the importance of public vigilance and, if necessary, action, to uphold rights.  Section 14 of the Bill of Rights guarantees everyone’s basic human right to privacy yet the eThekwini municipality has aroused public ire by requesting details about the incomes of pensioners applying for property rates rebates. By now legislation detailing how this right will be safeguarded should have been promulgated, but a Protection of Personal Information bill, drafted by the Law Commission, has not yet seen the light of day.

The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Development, which has dragged its heels for six years over the Protection of Personal Information bill has, however, prioritised the Criminal Law (Forensics Procedures) Amendment Bill 2009. This bill allows for the SAPS to establish a massive DNA database, without providing adequate controls for protecting individual and family privacy.  Public comment on this bill has been scant, in stark contrast to the vigorous lobbying which takes place in other countries about issues relating to DNA.

Nor is there any public debate about the invasion of privacy by the extensive use of surveillance techniques, especially CCTV cameras. That these cameras may prove valuable in catching criminals should not preclude critical debate – any more than the undoubted value of DNA in criminal matters should.  Like DNA though, CCTV footage can be misused.  Are all of those who operate the cameras free of any criminal association? While operators are all required to register with the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSIRA), the Authority lacks the capacity to deal with huge numbers of illegal security service providers.

Why, when these cameras are ubiquitous in places such as banks are so few criminals caught? What happens to the footage collected? Although the United Kingdom is described as the most watched country on earth, its Data Protection Act attempts to govern the use of CCTV cameras, and stipulates that the public must be informed that they are under surveillance.

To argue, as some might, that privacy concerns should play second fiddle to tackling crime is to miss the point. Both DNA and CCTV footage can be used for criminal purposes, and the failure to pass legislation protecting personal information may facilitate its use by criminals, especially in this computerised age.

Experience elsewhere in the world shows that the defence of constitutional rights is too important to be left to politicians of whichever persuasion. Although South Africa would benefit from more civil liberties bodies, existing groups could be used more effectively for the defence of rights – as in the UK where a wide range of professional bodies, associations and NGOs recently joined forces with Privacy International to oppose a clause in a parliamentary bill posing a threat to privacy.

Human rights issues under threat in our country include freedom of expression, privacy and those linked to criminal justice system. The sooner we organise, the better. As Mureinik warned, beware of irrational responses to violent crime – and of using human rights as a scapegoat for a malfunctioning criminal justice system. Bad things happen when good people remain silent. As individuals or as groups we should form networks – as in the UK – to oppose any diminution of our constitutional rights, no matter how minor it may appear.

*Quote from Etienne Mureinik article ‘Crime panic threatens our rights’ in Mail and Guardian November 24-30 1995

Alleged Disruption Of Political Meetings & Intimidation In Edendale And Muden

ANC supporters in the Edendale (Pietermaritzburg) and Muden areas allege that meetings they held on Sunday 15 March 2009 were disrupted by large groups of IFP supporters, leading to fears about their safety when campaigning in the run up to the April elections.  It is important that these allegations be dealt with by the political leadership of the ANC and IFP. Since it is also alleged that the SAPS did not take adequate action against those causing the disruptions, SAPS management should also urgently address the question of providing adequate protection for those attending political meetings.

In Edendale, supporters of the ANC Youth League gathered at Naduma High School, Mpumuza Ward 1, having apparently received permission for the meeting from the local traditional leader.  They claim that a small group of IFP supporters arrived and, when the police who were present did nothing to remove them – but merely asked the IFP councillor who was part of the group whether the meeting was legal – their numbers swelled.  One of those present was a local councillor against whom a number of cases of intimidation have been opened in the past, and another was a man who had reportedly been sent for paramilitary training at the Mlaba camp in 2008. The IFP supporters then allegedly behaved in a generally threatening manner towards those in the hall, including by throwing intelezi (traditional medicine) into the crowd – a tactic which inspires fear, especially as it was one which accompanied high levels of violence in the area in the pre-1994 period.

When the SAPS warned that it was not safe for the ANC supporters to continue with their meeting, they moved out of the hall to a nearby venue.  Police reinforcements subsequently arrived, possibly after the intervention of the provincial MEC for Community Safety and Liaison, who had apparently been called. The police formed a corridor between ANC and IFP. However, when the ANC supporters left the meeting to return to their homes they found that the main Mpumuza Road to Sweetwaters had been blocked by IFP supporters, and they had to use a side road.

It is also alleged that, in February, IFP supporters had attempted to stop ANC supporters from registering to vote, by blocking the Mabane Bridge (Sweetwaters) area.  During the 2006 local government elections there were numerous similar complaints of disruption of meetings and intimidation in the Sweetwaters area.

In the incident in Muden, ANC supporters had held a meeting in the Nkanini area and, when they were dispersing, they were allegedly set on by a large group of IFP supporters wielding sticks. Four ANC supporters were reportedly hurt, but not badly enough to need medical attention. Cases have not been opened because victims fear that they will be targeted if they do so. It is alleged that although the police had been informed about the meeting no preventive action was taken.  A local ANC councillor, Jeffrey Ngobese, who opened a case of intimidation against an IFP representative in June 2008, has since survived an apparent attempt on his life. Other ANC supporters in the area have reportedly been threatened and in November 2008 there was an attempt on the life of Thabsile Dladla of the Nhlangane area.

Following yesterday’s incident, the Muden area is very tense, with ANC supporters claiming that they are scared to engage in pre-election canvassing and campaigning.

Political leaders have pledged support for peaceful electioneering, so immediate action is demanded of them, with a view to preventing further similar incidents. SAPS management is responsible for ensuring that all such disruptions are dealt with by monitoring political gatherings and arresting and charging those responsible for life threatening disruptions.