Press Alert: Police intimidate/assault Delft-Symphony Pavement Dwellers. American journalist pepper sprayed for taking photos.

29 06 2008
Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement
Sunday 29th June, 2008

Delft-Symphony — Last night at 22h00, three police vans pulled up to Symphony Way dressed in riot gear. Without warning, they began pepper spraying people in the settlement and attempted to arrest a 58 year old resident named Auntie Tilla. When it was all over, the road’s pastor had been assaulted, beaten and abducted and five residents had been pepper sprayed multiple times. An American journalist had also been sprayed merely for taking photographs of police officers. The Anti-Eviction Campaign believes this intimidation and violence is uncalled for and condemns such cowardly actions by police. As of today, residents and the American journalist have laid charges of assault against Superintendent Van Wyk and the police under his command. Pavement Dwellers call on police to work with them to protect them from speeding drunk drivers rather than against them.

The incident began in the late afternoon when a drunk (on-duty) police officer from the Delft police department arrived at the Symphony Way pavement settlement and began to harass residents. Auntie Tilla, a loved and respected elder in the community, was bothered by the officer’s actions and attempted to make a citizen’s arrest for public violence and consumption of alcohol while on-duty. However, after bothering residents, the cop jumped into his car and sped away.

An hour later, a caravan of 3 police vans with over 15 officers arrived in front of Auntie Tilla’s shack and began threatening residents and seeking to arrest them. American journalist, Toussaint Losier likened the police operation to “cowboys jumping out of their vans looking for a fight. Without their name-tags on they had the clear intention of intimidating and assaulting residents”. But residents banded together trying to protect Auntie Tilla from being arrested. As a response, Van Wyk ordered police to pepper spray residents.

Brother Alfred Arnolds, a respected pastor who lives on the road with residents, was sprayed, assaulted, beaten by police and then thrown unconscious into one of the vans. He describes the event as follows: “When they came back it was like they were going to shoot some kind of movie. The way they came at Auntie Tilla and Etienne, I had to intervene…As you can see, this government has no sympathy for us. That is why we are living in these conditions”. Arnolds claims that after he awoke at the police station, he was kicked and beaten again, striped of 150 Rand, and then left injured in from of the station.

Toussaint Losier, a student from the university of Chicago as well as a journalist for the Boston Banner, was was taking pictures of the incident when Superintendent Van Wyk came and pushed the camera out of the way threatening: “you can’t take pictures of police officers conducting their operations…[and added] you shouldn’t be supporting the people on Symphony Way”. Knowing he was protected by South Africa’s constitution, Toussaint identified himself as a journalist and took a picture of an officer shoving a resident. Immediately afterwards, a police officer came right up to him and sprayed him directly in the eyes.

Twenty minutes after the police had abducted Pastor Arnolds, residents marched to the Delft police station where where they were ignored and laughed at by detectives and other policemen. Residents then went all the way to Bellville Police Station where they laid the charges of assault against Superintendent Van Wyk and called for the arrest of the special operations gang of Delft police who were under his command at the time.

While residents wait, hoping the law might finally be on their side, Tilla offered others a bit of perspective on the incident: “Why are they making us live like this when there are empty houses right here [across the road]. They think we are animals, but we are not animals. We know our rights!”

In reality, this unwarranted brutality by Delft police officers is merely part of a larger campaign by provincial and city government to vilify, intimidate and control the families who have nowhere else to go. Residents refuse to leave the road until they are given the houses that have been promised to them for decades. They know that if they leave Symphony Way, they will be swept under the rug, forgotten and stuck in a ‘temporary’ shacks for another ten years. But because they choose to protest and not be silent, they are bearing the brunt of this oppressive government and violent police gangs.

For comment, contact Ashraf at . He can connect you to the witnesses and victims of the crime.

Police caravan arrive to assault residents

Delft-Symphony police assault Anti-Eviction pavement dwellers

For more pictures, click here or contact us at

Pictures: Delft police raid and assault pavement dwellers of Symphony Way

29 06 2008

Delft-Symphony police assault Anti-Eviction pavement dwellers

Police caravan arrive to assault residents

Delft-Symphony police assault Anti-Eviction pavement dwellers

American Journalist Toussaint Losier gets pepper sprayed

For the AEC press release on the brutal police raid of Delft-Symphony, please click here.

Maritzburg: Dwellers threaten to rebuild mud huts

29 06 2008
26 June 2008
Thando Mgaga
Source: The Witness

Residents of the Ash Road (Jika Joe) informal settlement in the downtown area of the city say they are fed up with living in tents and are threatening to rebuild their shacks and mud houses if the Msunduzi Municipality does not address their complaints.

A strongly-worded statement outlining the residents’ complaint is in The Witness’s possession, but the writers do not wish to be named for fear of intimidation. They said the tents do not provide protection against the cold winter nights.

Read the rest of this entry »

Press Release: Pavement Dwellers hold government responsible for hit-and-run

29 06 2008

Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Statement
28 June, 2008

Delft-Symphony – At 4 pm on Saturday 28th of June, 8 year old Charl Jacobs was hit from behind and knocked over by a drunk driver speeding down Symphony Way. Renee, a qualified nurse, and Vicky, a first aid assistant (who both live on the road), kept pressure on Charl’s head wound – keeping him conscious until the ambulance eventually arrived.

For months, the Pavement Dwellers of Delft-Symphony Way (who were violently evicted in February) have been emphasizing the danger of speeding vehicles such as taxis, trucks, ordinary cars, government vehicles and even aggressive police cars who insist on using Symphony Way as a shortcut to their destinations. This road is supposed to be closed to traffic because of the thousands of homeless people currently living on the road. This problem has been raised at all meetings of residents with the traffic department, government officials, and directly to MEC Richard Dyantyi. In fact, for months, city officials have promised that action would be taken to close the road.

But because officials fail to keep their promises, residents have attempted to take matters into their own hands by calling on drivers to slow down, partially barricading the roads, setting up makeshift boom gates, and finally, as a last resort, closing the road completely with burning tires. On Thursday, yet another city official promised to set up proper barricades by 4pm the day before the incident (the 27th of June). This, as with other commitments by officials, never materialized.

According to Renee, “Charl was running off to the store and the car hit him from behind. Thats when I shouted: He’s getting away!”. Rather than stopping after hitting the boy, Mr Xolile continued speeding down Symphony Way. When residents caught him at the corner of Modderdam and Stellenbosch Arterial, he was clearly intoxicated. Residents brought him back to the scene of the crime where police took him and a passenger into custody.

Thousands of angry Pavement Dwellers are holding the South African government directly responsible for this easily preventable accident. While residents, who are struggling to survive in the freezing cold weather, live directly across from empty houses that were meant for them, this tragedy is proof once again that no one in government actually cares about the safety and basic needs of the poor pavement dwellers.

The Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign is now looking into the feasibility of suing government for their inaction which has resulted in the near death of Charl and suffering of thousands who have, for years, been on the waiting list for houses.

For comment, please contact Ashraf at

Residents hold government responsible Residents hold goverment responsible

Update: Charl Jacobs’ father went to the police station today and has found out that the drunk driver, Mr Xolile, has not been charged for his crime.  The police seem to have just let him go.