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Repression in South Africa

52 members of apf arrested at constitution hill, including 6 children

This morning (21 March 2004) 52 members of the Anti-Privatisation Forum, including 6 children, were arrested and charged with participating in an illegal gathering. This includes key members of the APF leadership such as John Appolis, Chairperson of the APF, and Rob Rees, APF Deputy Secretary. They are currently being transported to Johannesburg Central Police Station for processing. It is outrageous that at the same time that the government celebrates constitutional and human rights, it decides to arrest 52 people who were peacefully gathered outside of Constitution Hill. It seems that today, standing on a public street, is becoming a crime.

The arrest comes after representatives from the APF in Soweto, Vosloorus and Thembelihle, amongst other communities, were forcefully prevented in their communities from getting onto the buses that would transport them to Constitution Hill for a peaceful demonstration.
Furthermore, APF representatives from Durban Roodepoort Deep, who had gathered at the Workers? Library, were forced to give their fingerprints for the police to run them through their Crime Detection System, despite not having done anything illegal. These representatives were further prevented from proceeding to Constitutional Hill.

We have just had news (1:30pm) that APF representatives gathered at Hillbrow Police Station were shot at with pump guns as they tried to follow their comrades to Johannesburg Central Police Station. They were asked to disperse in 3 minutes, one by one, and as they did the police began to shoot at them. One APF representative was wounded and other reps are in the process of taking him to Johannesburg Hospital.

It is ironic that people?s constitutional right to assembly and protest are being violated exactly at the time that the government celebrates these same rights. The APF strongly condemns this action by the government and will continue its fight for the protection and access to basic socio-economic and human rights. No one, no matter how powerful, can take away these rights from the majority!


For more information, please contact Dale McKinley on 072 429 4086  drdalet@metroweb.co.za
Prishani on 073 541 8172 or 083 438 2964.