EFF protests over arrests
EFF party members protested outside the Ezibeleni Magistrate’s Court on Monday in support of eight people who were arrested on Thursday for defying a Grahamstown High Court order by illegally erecting shacks on municipal land.
Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) won a court interdict in October preventing anyone from occupying the land – known as the Highway in Ezibeleni.
Sipho Gcwata, Simphiwe Jikijela, Nobantu Sinxoto, Nelisa Gawe, Zandisile Gcwata, Siseko Fatyela, Sebenzile Mahe and Novusile Mahe, appeared in the Ezibeleni Magistrate’s Court and were charged for contempt of court by magistrate Xoliswa Ngwendlu and each granted R200 bail.
The case was postponed to March 15 for further investigation.
Sipho, Jikijela, Gawe and Zandisile, were arrested by the Ezibeleni station commander lieutenant-colonel Bekekile Waka after they approaced the police station to protest against the four people who were arrested before them.
Jikijela said three elderly residents were among those arrested and thus the EFF had asked Waka to arrest them instead and to release the others. They claimed they were threatened and put behind bars, but that they would continue to invade the land.
Mahe, 71, who was arrested with his wife Novusile, 56, said they were deprived of their medication during their incarceration. He said being arrested was a painful experience because he had to watch his wife sleep on a cold cement floor for four days.
Zolile Matiwane of Matiwane attorneys who represented the eight pro bono, said he was approached by the EFF to assist the arrested community members. “We tried so hard to get them released on Friday but due to the seriousness of the case we fell short. All we wanted to do today was get bail for them and we successfully did that. The state initially proposed R500 bail but due to most them being unemployed, we managed to get it reduced to R200.”
EFF MP Zolile Xalisa spoke outside the court, encouraging people to continue invading land.
“It cannot be that the young people of this municipality still live in their parents’ homes when there is unoccupied land. The police will have to arrest all of us if that is their wish, but we are not moved or shaken by this incident and we will continue standing by those who are arrested.”
EFF councillor in EMLM, Luthando Amos, advised the community to be strategic when they decide to invade land by not building their shacks during the day but rather in the evening so that the police would wake up to a surprise new community and so avoid arrests.
ON SITE: EFF members protest against the arrest of eight people after shacks were erected on land in Ezibeleni, in violation of an interdict prohibiting it