1 September 2014
Twelve men arrested for public violence, among other charges, while resisting evictions in Philippi East have been incarcerated for more than a week. Their case was again postponed at the Athlone Magistrates Court this morning. The accused will now remain in custody until 12 September, when their bail application will be heard.
The postponement was a disappointment for people who had traveled to the court in the hope of seeing their relatives released on bail. State prosecutors, who are opposing bail, argued that more time was needed to prepare before the bail application could be heard.
“This is terrible,” said Cynthia Heselu, moments after court bailiffs led her 27-year-old son, Yibanathi Heselu, and eleven others down to the court holding cells.
“I came to see my son. But, more importantly, I came to take him home. It is unjust that he has to endure being in prison for so long. He missed a whole week at work (as a Fidelity security guard) because of this arrest. Now we hear that it will be another two weeks. I cannot sleep at night.”
Heselu said her son was not involved in the land occupation which resulted in evictions, violent protests and arrests off Sheffield Road in Philippi East on 22 August.
“He lives in a backyard in Bekela, with his wife. He works hard and now he’s losing a lot of money because he cannot report for work. How is this justice?”
Andile Lili, a leader of Ses’khona Peoples Rights Movement, was at court this morning. Around fifty of the movement’s supporters gathered outside the courtroom in support of those arrested.
He stressed that Ses’khona was there in a supportive capacity, and that the land occupation in August was not orchestrated by the movement.
The City of Cape Town has claimed that Ses’khona purposefully encouraged shackdwellers to settle on the land as part of a political strategy to destabilise the ruling DA in the province and city.