Further to our statement on the crisis in Thembelihle:
Throughout today (11 March 2015) the police continued with their attacks on community members, firing teargas and rubber bullets indiscriminately. This came after the police harassment of community leader and his family, Bhayiza Miya, who has since been forced to go into hiding.
At 11:00am this morning the Right2Know Campaign sent urgent letters to both the office of the MEC, as well as the office of the SAPS Gauteng Commissioner, demanding that the police in Thembelihle be called off. We did not receive a response.
At 15:00pm the community gathered in a mass meeting since they had been informed that MEC Jacob Mamabolo would be addressing the community about their list of concerns at this time.
At 15:00pm Mamabolo did not arrive. Instead a delegation of officials from the MEC’s office arrived to address the community in the absence of Mamabolo. The absence of the MEC angered the community members at the gathering since they had been informed that he would be coming. The community members therefore refused to engage with the MEC officials and demanded that Mamabolo should instead make an appearance and address them. A small group of community members toward the back of the crowd, in their anger, began throwing stones.
The police then opened fire on everybody in the crowd – not just the stone throwers – with teargas and rubber bullets. Many people in the crowd were badly injured by the rubber bullets and were left bleeding profusely.
We call on MEC Jacob Mamabolo to resolve this crisis immediately. He is behaving like a coward. Mamabolo should be responsive to the community, face accountability, and act on the promises which he made on 4 November 2014.
We call on the police to stop their brutality against the community of Thembelihle. The police are behaving like thugs. The police’s tactics in Thembelihle are outrageously heavy-handed, unnecessarily brutal and must stop at once.
For further comment contact:
Bhayiza Miya (Thembelihle Crisis Committee): 073 618 1521
Bongani Xezwi (R2K Gauteng Organiser): 073 904 1626
Julie Reid (R2K Gauteng Coordinator): 082 885 8969