Abahlali urge police not to criminalise the poor in search for looted goods
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ABAHLALI baseMjondolo, the organisation representing people living in shacks, has urged the police not to criminalise the poor in their quest to recover property stolen during looting.
Thapelo Mohapi, one of the leaders of the organisation, said people in the informal settlements are the first ones to be targeted whenever something goes wrong in the country.
He said shacks are raided without warrants because they are not viewed as a home but rather a “thing” where criminals live.
“Our dignity is being infringed upon… we are poor and live in shacks, but we did not make ourselves to be poor,” he said.
“We are always treated as criminals. For more than 25 years the police have raided shack settlements and taken any electronic goods that they can find if a receipt cannot be produced,” Mohapi said.
“The harassment and criminalisation are much worse than usual. In fact, the abuse that we are now suffering is extreme. No middle-class person has the police or soldiers kick their door down, insult them, assault them and take anything that they don’t have a receipt for.”
Mohapi said that last week one of their leaders was stopped by law enforcement officers near the Foreman Road settlement in Clare Estate while taking milk to people in need.
“Treating all poor people as criminals is another way of making one part of society an enemy to others, another way of dividing people.
“It is not radical to turn the people against each other. It is inhuman, dangerous and any humanity in their hearts must reject it,” Mohapi said.