Queries on land ar­rests

The Rep - - NEWS - SIMTEMBILE MGIDI

THE on­go­ing saga of land oc­cu­pa­tion in Ez­i­be­leni took a turn for the worse on Mon­day as res­i­dents queried why po­lice were ar­rest­ing them while a re­lated court case was pend­ing.

The Rep re­ported (“De­fi­ant”, July 28) that res­i­dents had started build­ing shacks on a sec­tion of land, known as the High­way in­for­mal set­tle­ment, de­spite a warn­ing from the Enoch Mgi­jima Local Mu­nic­i­pal­ity that per­sons found guilty of such an of­fence would be re­moved and ar­rested.

EMLM in­di­cated it was try­ing to find a le­gal way for peo­ple to get ac­cess to land.

High­way Com­mit­tee sec­re­tary Khany­iso Hoho said he was shocked by the ac­tions of the Ez­i­be­leni SAPS.

“The po­lice ar­rested peo­ple here on Au­gust 28, which is the same day that we were served an in­terim court or­der by the sher­iff of the court, no­ti­fy­ing us of the court in­ter­dict case that we have to at­tend in the High Court in Gra­ham­stown on Septem­ber 15.”

He said the in­terim court or­der was not an evic­tion letter.

“The po­lice ar­rived in the evening and ar­rested ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing moth­ers. We could not con­tact any of­fices for le­gal as­sis­tance be­cause they are closed at night.”

He said they had asked the station com­man­der about the in­terim court or­der and the im­pact of a clause two 1(b) – ap­par­ently the base for the ar­rests – which the po­lice could al­legedly not ex­plain.

“I don’t know what kind of a demo­cratic repub­lic do we live in that some­one can just say I will ar­rest you with no ex­pla­na­tion why . . .”

The Rep reporter on Mon­day found irate com­mu­nity mem­bers at the Ez­i­be­leni po­lice station fol­low­ing their ar­rests.

They were re­leased less than an hour later. Speak­ing af­ter their re­lease, Hoho again slammed the po­lice, say­ing there had been no ex­pla­na­tion, while two shots had been fired and a smoke grenade thrown.

He said res­i­dents had run away and did not pro­voke the po­lice.

“It is Women’s Month yet they man­han­dled us. There was a wo­man with an in­fant and there was a nine-month preg­nant wo­man. Who are the po­lice re­ally serv­ing and pro­tect­ing, be­cause they do not even know why they are ar­rest­ing us? We have a date for our case, so why are they ar­rest­ing us when there is no evic­tion letter on our in­terim court or­der?”

EFF Re­gional In­terim Lead­er­ship Core (RILC) rep­re­sen­ta­tive Xhanti Kanti said he had ques­tioned the po­lice about the ar­rests while co­or­di­na­tor Lin­dani Dlokolo said, “We joined the cause of the peo­ple of High­way be­cause land dis­tri­bu­tion is one of the pil­lars in our poli­cies.”

A heav­ily preg­nant Fundiswa Memke said she had al­most fallen af­ter po­lice had thrown the smoke grenade and that she was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing pain in her lower ab­domen this week.

Hoho said although the peo­ple who were oc­cu­py­ing the land be­longed to dif­fer­ent par­ties, the high cost of le­gal ser­vices and the fact that EMLM had not con­sulted them, had prompted them to ask the EFF for aid. He said about 8000 peo­ple wanted land, but that EMLM had “for­got­ten that they are sup­pose to serve us the peo­ple. We put them in power, now they are us­ing that power to take us to the High Court. They for­get that they will come to us not long from now want­ing our votes.”

The po­lice had not com­mented at the time of go­ing to press.

EMLM Gcobani Msind­wana said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity had an in­terim court or­der in place which al­lowed the po­lice to ar­rest and evict peo­ple from oc­cu­py­ing the land and/or fur­ther build­ing on the land.

On the re­lease of the or­der, it was then up to the po­lice to ef­fect.

Pic­ture: SIMTEMBILE MGIDI

HERE TO STAY: Res­i­dents con­tinue to build shacks on a piece of land in Ez­i­be­leni

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