- Published: Monday, 13 August 2018 08:54
On the 21st April 2015 the Magistrates Court in Sebokeng sentenced 4 community activists from Boiketlong, to a total of 16 years in prison. The activists are: Dinah Makhetha, Sipho Mangane, Dan Molefe and Pulane Mahlangu. Key witnesses could not even identify the 4 but the courts sought to use the apartheid law of ‘doctrine of common purpose’ to jail them. They were found not guilty of ‘public violence’ but guilty of ‘assault, arson and malicious damage to property’.
Pulane Mahlangu has run away and no one knows where she is or if she is in good health. Either way, she cannot come home.
Dan Molefe died of stress-related illness in December 2017.
Although released for a short period while the appeal process was underway, both Dinah and Sipho are back in prison as they lost the first level of Appeal. The magistrate is prepared to consider shortening the sentence but not the sentence itself. The appeal process remains underway.
There is now an opportunity for a mediated process that may assist in a process of early release. There is an urgent need to cover the costs of mediation which we estimate could come to about R40 000. Appeals have been made to the community to raise funds as well to the broader movement.
What is at stake?
The state has used an apartheid law, the ‘doctrine of common purpose’, to attempt to crush the resistance of the masses. The law of common purpose is deliberately broad so as to be used to target leaders in the community and working class movement. If left unchallenged it extends the attack on the democratic right to protest. To petition for full Leave to Appeal and the higher processes are all very expensive and time-consuming. This places a huge burden on the families and community of Boiketlong. Ironically, sentences for murder and rape are quite often less than what the activists received. If you are rich and famous, you are likely to get a much reduced sentence but working class activists bear the brunt of this injustice. The infamous Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to only 6 years in prison, for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The sentence was later increased to 15 years, still less than what the Boiketlong 4 were sentenced to. He had been released on parole after serving only 10 months in prison. How many men, who kill their partners, are even locked up? Comrade Dinah’s granny passed away but the state denied her the opportunity to attend the funeral.
The increase of repressive methods against community activists is part of a world-wide trend. As traditional leaderships are discredited and no longer able to control the masses, so there is an increase in repressive measures against the masses.
If you are rich, the wheels of the ‘justice’ system turn. If you are a worker, you are locked up and the key thrown away. Thus the state is exposed as an instrument of big capital, an instrument of violence, to control the working class.
This marks a new stage in the desperation of imperialism to control the masses- the same dropping of the democratic mask of the state and the criminalization of protest, is seen across Africa, from Cape to Cairo. Special fascist gangs such as the Chrysalis black shirts are springing up like mushrooms. The fascist attacks on immigrant poor are also similar signs of desperation by imperialism to use terror and force to attempt to break the resistance of the masses.
The community of Boiketlong have long suffered from broken promises of the ANC government. Since the elections in 2006, the ANC has come with empty promises to upgrade the area that by then had already long suffered a lack of sanitation, lack of water, lack of electricity and lack of housing. The 4 are part of the collective leadership, assigned by the community to lead their struggle for houses. This is their only ‘crime’. They are political prisoners of the capitalist state. They are not criminals.
It is reported in the Journal of Southern African Studies that the mining giants have accelerated their theft through transfer pricing after 1994 to such an extent that in 2007 alone about R600bn was taken out by imperialism through illegal means. (This is about $50bn, which is more than what is required to end world hunger for a year). The amounts that imperialism has stolen over the years is in the order of trillions of dollars, and this is from SA alone. If the entire Africa is also considered, we are looking at several trillions of dollars stolen by imperialism.
Yet, across Africa, all the regimes, without exception, turn a blind eye to this and are instruments of keeping the masses in check while imperialist plunder continues.
SA and Africa has enough wealth to meet all our needs, with decent housing, free education, free, quality health care, decent jobs for all. Yet everywhere there is poverty and suffering and only the imperialists and their paid hirelings benefit. Indeed, SA has enough wealth to care for the whole of Southern Africa, but it is a giant prison for the masses of Southern Africa.
Boiketlong is a symbol of the capitalist injustice that there is. The imperialist who plunder and steal and cause the early death of millions, get off scot free. The masses and anyone who dares raise a question, are brutalised and suppressed.
There should have been houses and proper facilities in Boiketlong but instead it is a slum. It is being kept a slum by the ANC government. That is why the 4 comrades were jailed: because they dared to challenge the slum conditions.
The SA government dares to blame the other African regimes for their ‘nationals’ coming to SA. The very same imperialism that plunders SA, also plunders the whole of Africa. All these regimes are responsible for the enforced poverty of the African masses. The SA govt has more blood on its hands. In the DRC imperialism funds the wars that have killed 6-10 million people. After the lands are cleared and imperialism opens up its mining operations for Cassiterite (raw material for cell phones, tablets playstations and laptops- 70% of the world’s reserves are there). It is SA soldiers that are provided as a free security force for the plunder. Each soldier is paid R50 000 a month for this work of protecting Anglo American from the starving masses in the DRC.
The spread of HIV-Aids in SA, according to credible research reports, was largely due to the collapse of the health system which led to the re-use of infected needles, among other unsanitary practices. Thanks to the ANC government.
Yes, a lot of dwellings have been built but most of them are in the old group areas. In other words, the ANC government perpetuated apartheid housing policies.
There is enough wealth for jobs for all, but due to the theft that the ANC (and DA) governments allow, there is mass unemployment and starvation everywhere.
This is not peace but a sustained civil war against the masses which the ANC has continued from the old NP apartheid regime.
We need to draw the lesson. Freedom will not fall from the sky. The working class needs to be organised. We need to tear down the artificial barriers that separate us.
We call for a national and international programme of action against the criminalization of protest, for the freeing of the 4 Boiketlong activists.
One more appeal
We salute the activists from the Boiketlong and Sebokeng communities, from WIVL, SRWP, ILRIG, United Front, Giwusa, who have demonstrated their solidarity and/or visited the comrades in prison.
We salute the cdes from various international groups, such as the Las Heras families and prisoners, the FLTI, CWG, LITCI, CSP Conlutas and others, who sent messages of solidarity and material support.
It is necessary for one final round of solidarity to be sent. We call on the broader working class movement and the democrats in general to contribute, through renewed messages of solidarity and through financial contributions.
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30 July 2018