Pretoria – The EFF in Gauteng has threatened to picket at police stations and courts to demand the release of its members who were “peaceful demonstrators” during the national shutdown led by EFF president Julius Malema.
EFF Gauteng chairperson Nkululeko Dunga said the detentions were an abuse of power by the state, aimed at intimidating citizens.
“The EFF in Gauteng condemns the callous behaviour of the South African Police Service and Correctional Services in refusing to release the arrested protesters from (Monday’s) demonstrations. After much deployment of police for the protests, it is now apparent that they were sent to provoke and arrest innocent demonstrators in order to justify the wasteful expenditure of R166 million in deploying the army and reserve police,” said Dunga.
“The state has now sunk into an abyss of deceit and lawlessness as it infringes on the rights of citizens to demonstrate as enshrined in Section 17 of the Constitution. The continued arrest of peaceful demonstrators and their denial of the opportunity to apply for police bail lays bare the way in which the state is ready to infringe and trump upon the fundamental right to freedom of expression, especially on views that criticise and expose the state and corrupt politicians.”
Dunga said since the first hour of the national shutdown, the EFF had been attending to cases of arrest relating to the protest.
“We are observant of the brutality meted against citizens by the police and private security, moreover the unrecorded wrongful arrests, abuses and release of those who were apprehended by the law enforcement.
“This is an abuse of power by the state in an attempt to further intimidate citizens from holding the government accountable through demonstrations,” he said.
“We call on Bheki Cele and Ronald Lamola as ministers of police, and justice and correctional services respectively, and provincial commissioner Elias Mawela to immediately release the innocent citizens. The EFF Gauteng will be engaging on pickets at the police stations and courts in demand of the release of the peaceful demonstrators.”
Independent Media has reported that police have arrested more than 550 protesters who were involved in public violence, attempted looting, damage to infrastructure and intimidation on the sidelines of the national shutdown.
This was confirmed by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints).
On Monday, Malema addressed a crowd of protesters gathered outside President Cyril Ramaphosa’s official residence, the Sefako Makgatho’s Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria. The outspoken opposition leader accused Ramaphosa of privatising Eskom and other state-owned entities.