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[South Africa] Kroonstad explodes – Call for solidarity

category southern africa | community struggles | non-anarchist press author Thursday June 29, 2017 05:16author by Maokeng Advice And Resource Centre - Maokeng Advice And Resource Centreauthor email maokengadvice.resourcecentre at gmail dot comauthor address P.O Box 2146, Kroonstad, 9500 | 31 Hill Street, Kroonstad, 9500, South Africa Report this post to the editors

The Free State Housing Campaign started door to door work in 3 wards (367 RDP households) in Kroonstad, Free State, and a mass meeting was held in each ward and then a mass march in Kroonstad.

All this led to a broadening of the campaign as expressed in well over a thousand residents marching in Kroonstad and putting their demands very clearly to various government departments giving them 7 days to respond. At a report-back meeting held on Sunday 11th June there was extreme anger at Governments response and well “the shit and the ‘gatvol’ factor hit the fan” when the community marched in the township and were attacked by the police. 16 activists were jailed, charged with public violence and eventually released.

This is a call for solidarity to contribute no matter how small or big to this struggle.

Kroonstad explodes – Call for solidarity and to assist with creation of a Solidarity Fund

The Free State Housing Campaign that was launched in October 2016 was to be coordinated among 22 Advice offices of the Free State. Four key towns were identified. Kroonstad is one of those, and Maokeng Advice and Resource Centre as the hub centre for the Fezile Dabi District was to spearhead the campaign, also its manager who was elected Campaign Champion of the Free State Housing Campaign which was to run for a first phase of 12 months. The campaign was targeted at local municipalities and thus was aimed at achieving maximum proactive involvement of communities by forming core groups of community leaders who would advance the campaign to be a community driven campaign. The Advice Offices would still be involved by playing a pivotal role as resource managers, supporting structures and also coordinating campaign activities.

Maokeng Advice Office went into the campaign head-on, running at full speed. It organised workshops for community activists, conducted Participatory Action Research, held community mass meetings, formed core-groups of activists in wards and a women core group. These community mass meetings culminated in a protest marches by community members to highlight their plight and present their demands to the Local Government Officials as envisaged at the launch of the campaign.

As campaign go, they take on a life of their own, informed by the dynamics of the area and the moment. The Kroonstad campaign is no exception. It has taken on, adapted and adopted its own identity. As was predicted and articulated at the launch. It has added numerous other social ills rather than mere bricks and mortar housing issues. Apart from basic shelter, it is now addressing lack of jobs, electricity issues, health and community social investments, challenge bad decisions by authorities to remove social services like Department of Home Affairs, SARS, and the Department of Labour and be relocated at the home town of the Free State Premier, Parys. As also expected and predicted at the launch, the authorities are taking a hard line reaction to these activities engaging riot police with teargas and rubber bullets to disrupt marches and deprive the community to voice their legitimate concerns.

The police actions have resulted in a number of marches which led to community members (16 of them on 13/06/2017) being arrested. Maokeng Advice and Resource Centre, including community leaders have succeeded in the difficult task of securing legal representation for those arrested. Difficult because of lack of resources and the logistical nightmare this lack causes. Among the detained comrades 4 were students who were busy writing their exams and were remanded in custody. As of now we are putting pressure to the justice system to at least release the students so that they can continue with their exams. And the other comrades are due to appear on 22/06/2017 and they will be represented by Legal Aid South Africa. There are also young children who were shot at and injured by the police and we are trying to meet with their parents and see what assistance can we provide to them. On Monday we put pressure to the prosecution about the requisition of the 4 students to reappear in court but it only happened on Tuesday and the 4 learners were released.

On the 22/06/2017, all the remaining comrades who were detained were released on free bail and they will reappear on the 26/07/2017. They have informed us of the prison conditions of the Kroonstad Correctional Centre which they explain as a pure abuse of the rights of the detainees and prisoners and have asked the office to follow the matter up and try to better the conditions there.

We are therefore as Maokeng Advice and Resources Centre asking you to contribute, as the campaign is intensifying, to a solidarity fund. Because Maokeng Advice and Resource Centre is at the forefront of the Campaign in having kick-started, it is envisaged that it monitors, implement and account to Funders For Management of the fund. It has the capacity to do exactly that. These funds will be used to empower communities especially their core leaders activists, with communication tools such as airtime, information pamphlets to keep community informed and in organising for meetings and marches, to organise and keep data, also fuel to ferry leader activists around community sometimes with loud hailers; also other times family members of affected members when they are in police station or prison having been arrested or in hospital like the one comrade who was hit by a police vehicle. Maokeng Advice and Resource Centre promise to handle the funds with proper diligent care and to provide all funders with a narrative report of events and an audit statement of the funds.

Why support this initiative?

1. Comrades do not have adequate resources for fuel, communication, visiting and caring for the families of those arrested and injured and for keeping the community informed.
2. We want to build a network of solidarity beyond funding. This campaign intends to continue to use the skills, knowledge and experience of many comrades in the network as directed, requested and prioritised by this struggle.
3. This people driven campaign in Kroonstad is taking a life and shape of its own beyond just the housing issue. The Participatory Action Research and the rest of the process evoked this.
4. However this struggle pans out and “settles” a bit the community, the core group which is united with great capacity and experience, is well positioned to grow current levels of ideological and strategy congruence. The core groups and activists are formulating a path forward to build on the gains made. We believe the conditions provide a great opportunity to build a united resilient struggle as the core and centre is strong and centre will need to hold. Their approach is based on an emancipatory praxis with egalitarian structures and a strong women’s power component.
5. There is infrastructure support from Moakeng Advice and Resource Centre with a good track record of sound administration.
6. Even though donor funds will be raised. It provides an opportunity to respond with the required flexibility.

We kindly request your solidarity contribution or any other contribution you can make to this struggle. Please forward reading material and publications that may useful for comrades.

The advice office will follow-up this request, will acknowledge all contributions and will account for funds spent.

Bank Details of the organisation:

Name of account holder: Maokeng Advice And Resource Centre
Account Number: 2004511753
Bank Name: Nedbank
Brach Code: 11243645
Branch Name: Kroonstad
Type of Account: Savings
Contact Person: Jerry Kole (0840304568) or Thomas Melamu (0762176363)
Email: maokengadvice.resourcecentre@gmail.com or jerrykole@webmail.co.za

When making a deposit:

Please use reference KSF and your name.
Please inform via email of your contribution:
maokengadvice.resourcecentre@gmail.com and jerrykole@webmail.co.za and tonymflk@gmail.com

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