World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement

Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Friday, 4th July, 2008

Delft-Symphony -- On Wednesday, July 2nd at the Bellville Magistrates Court courtroom E, two members of the Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign, Jerome Daniels and Ridwaan Isaacs, were each sentenced twelve months in prison - simply for being community leaders at Delft-Symphony Way settlement. Both maintained their innocence on charges of malicious destruction of property brought by Elmory Isaacs, a former resident of the same settlement, who presented no evidence beyond her own testimony.

During a two hour trial in which the activities of the Anti-Eviction Campaign featured prominently, Ms Isaacs testified that these two community leaders had threatened her with knives of and slashed her tent. Under cross examination, Ms Isaacs conceded that all the evicted occupants of the Delft Symphony N2 Gateway homes had begun their pavement encampment by agreeing as a group to remove any resident who threatened or attacked another. Moreover, she also acknowledged that on the evening in question an individual she had allowed to live in her tent unsupervised had violently threatened another community member. However, she became agitated when asked questions about whether these threats violated this agreement, shouting "this is not about Johnny. This is about my tent, my property." Without presenting any evidence or calling any other witnesses, the prosecution rested its case.

During his testimony, Mr. Daniels, explained that he had verbally intervened to prevent the occupant of Ms Isaac's tent from making good on his threats. But when residents of Symphony Way learned of what had occurred, the community decided to remove this person from the settlement to prevent any future violence from occurring. He insisted that rather than taking part in taking down her tent, he had sought to prevent residents from taking such drastic action.

For his part, Ridwaan Isaacs testified that he had not been in that part of the Symphony Way section when community members dismantled Ms Isaac's tent. It was only later that night that he learned of what had occurred. Another resident of the Symphony Way settlement, Mrs. Evelyn Mokoena, corroborated the testimony of both Mr Isaacs and Mr Daniels. She stated that dozens of community members took the decision to dismantle the tent and took action over the objections of Mr Daniels. Mr Isaacs, she insisted, was not there.

During the course of this testimony, Magistrate Van Graan from Court E, repeatedly interrupted the defence and prosecution attorneys to question defendants about their involvement in the Anti-Eviction Campaign. When Mrs Evelyn Mokoena responded that it was the community that was responsible for making the decision to dismantle the tent, he interjected, "I can't understand under what circumstances does the community take a decision?" When Mrs Mokoena explained that in the informal settlement the community is responsible for making its own decisions, Magistrate Van Graan responded, "Is this what is happening in this country? Is this thing justifiable?"

In closing, the defendants' attorney reiterated that the preceding testimony had proven that neither defendant had touched Ms Daniel's property, with each witness corroborating the other. After a five minute recess, Magistrate Van Graan delivered a guilty verdict, quoting case law that justified his dismissal of the defence's testimony and only accepting that of Ms Isaacs. He explained that while he could not sentence the community, some one had to take responsibility for this offence. In response, the defence attorney recommended a warning, noting that both defendants had children and were currently volunteered their time supporting the residents of Symphony Way. The prosecutor, in response suggested a fine but did not suggest any jail-time for the defendants. However Magistrate Van Graan imposed a twelve month sentence at Goodwood Prison, with a possibility of a six month suspension for good behaviour. While he acknowledged that this charge was not as serious as a murder or rape conviction, he argued that he needed to hold the defendants responsible and teach the Anti-Eviction Campaign a lesson.

Upon hearing of this verdict, the residents of Symphony Way condemned it as unjust and called upon all struggling communities to support them in their effort in seeking the release of Mr. Daniels and Mr. Isaacs before the end of the month. "There are murderers and rapist walking around," asked Mrs Mokoena. "Why aren't they locking them up for twelve months?" Symphony Way resident Francis Jantjies objected to the verdict: "it seems like the justice system in South Africa is not right. Who did the investigation in this case? How are these two being sent to prison for something that the community did?"

Residents of the AEC settlement in Symphony Way believe that Mr Isaacs and Mr. Daniels are political prisoners who are being convicted of something they did not do merely because they are dedicated activists fighting for better lives for their families and community

The Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign is now seeking to raise R7 000 towards an appeal of these convictions. They are also accepting donations to go to the families of Mr. Daniels and Isaacs. The prisoners also desperately need money to by necessities in the prison: socks, underwear, deodorant, razors, telkom cards, etc.

ends


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Myanmar Election: UNICEF Urges Prioritisation Of Children

With 99 days to go before Myanmar elections, UNICEF urges candidates make children the clear winner More>>

Liberia Thousands Of Unregistered Children Born During Ebola Crisis

Thousands of unregistered children born in Liberia during Ebola crisis at risk of exploitation – UNICEF More>>

UN Refugee Agency Envoy Angelina Jolie Visits Myanmar

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt (left) in Myitkyina township, Kachin State, Myanmar, meeting with some of the 100,000 displaced people who currently live there. Photo: UNHCR/T.Stoddart More>>

As Health Needs Rise In Somalia, Funding Hits New Low

As health needs rise in Somalia, funding hits new low, cutting off 1.5 million from care – UN More>>

Need To End Violence Against Children In Conflict

‘We should be outraged’ more not being done to end violence against children in conflict – UNICEF chief More>>

On Mandela Day, UN Joins Call To Promote Community Service

Nelson Mandela, then Deputy President of the African National Congress of South Africa, raises his fist in the air while addressing the Special Committee Against Apartheid in the General Assembly Hall. UN Photo/P. Sudhakaran More>>

Some $3.2 Billion Needed For Ebola Recovery Efforts

Some $3.2 billion needed for Ebola recovery efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – UN More>>

World Day: UN Spotlights Plight Of Vulnerable Populalations

Syrian refugees fleeing the fighting near the Syrian city of Kobani wait in a holding area before boarding buses in Turkey (September 2014). Photo: UNHCR /I. Prickett More>>

Afghanisatan: Direct Talks Between Government And Taliban

The United Nations Security Council has welcomed the recently held direct talks between Afghan Government and Taliban representatives as a step towards “peace and reconciliation” in the region. More>>

Eradicating World Hunger By 2030

Agriculture workers collect carrots on a farm in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Photo: World Bank/Maria Fleischmann More>>

Bangladesh: Flood Leads To UN Agency Providing Food Relief

Anwar Hossain unloads cartons of High Energy Biscuits from a pickup truck and transfers them to a distribution center in Kawar Khop union, Ramu upazila, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: WFP/Kamrul Mithon More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news