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Statement issued on behalf of the Zwelethu Community by Busi Mtabane, Right2Know campaign

The Zwelethu Community and Khayelitsha Backyarders are concerned and would like to note the unconstitutional and illegal manner in which the City of Cape Town Metro Police treated one of our citizen journalists. On Friday, 23 June a member of Zwelethu Community, the newly named Zwelethu community that is currently occupying land in Khayelitsha witnessed a brutal assault of a citizen journalist by a member of Anti-Land Invasion Unit in the presence of Metro police. The assault was an attempt to prevent the reporter from covering footage of the police demolishing the erected shacks.

The police also busted the video camera and removed the memory card from the camera. This is obviously in contravention with Section 16 of the Constitution, which protects media freedom. It also contravenes police’ own Standing Order 156 which states that the police may not stop journalists from taking photos or video and may not seize or damage the equipment. Above all they must treat all media representatives with courtesy, dignity and respect.

A charge was laid at Lingelethu West Police station against the police. As Zwelethu Community it quite clear to us that the Metro Police with its Anti-Land Invasion Unit is adamant on crushing protests and threaten protesters with violence.  We have noted the increasing levels of police and state violence against protesters especially those who occupy vacant land.

The occupation near Khayelitsha Mall began on the 15th of May 2017. The ongoing struggle around the occupation of land for housing residents has already resulted in the fatal shooting of a land activist and one of the leaders of the occupation.

On the 28 of May one of our leaders Mthunzi “ Ras Moziah” Zuma was assassinated. The perpetrators were arrested but were later released by the detective. We marched to the police station to enquire about this and they were later re-arrested. One of them has appeared in court and has been released on bail.