Police detain pregnant and breastfeeding women illegally

27 May 2007 - On Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 18 community members [1] in Maandagshoek, in the Tubatse Municipality north of Burgersfort were arrested, among them two breastfeeding women and a pregnant woman. They were arrested for blocking their community road by placing stones and rocks in the road to prevent mining vehicles from coming onto their land to prospect for platinum. Since then these women have been denied the right to have their children with them so that they could feed them.

Legally they were meant to appear in court within 48 hours, but they are still in detention, and will only appear in court tomorrow, Monday. 28 May 2007, at the Meckleeungburg Court, near Burgersfort. The community will protest outside the court room tomorrow.

The 18 accused were charged on Wednesday, 23 May with public violence.

Despite extensive efforts by the attorneys and advocates acting for the accused they were unable to secure their attendance at court. On Friday morning, the police refused to take the community people to court despite the fact that the prisoners were requisitioned by the senior public prosecutor to appear in court for a bail application.

Emmanuel Makgoga, spokesperson for the Maandagshoek Development Community:
“The act of arresting people and detaining them unlawfully is an intimidation tactic by the police and authorities against people who are resisting big mining corporations. We will not be intimidated, and we will continue resisting government and corporations taking our lands away from us illegally.”

Richard Spoor, who is assisting the community people with legal representation has spoken to David Nkwana, from the Premiers Office in the Limpopo Province, but this was in vain as the police still did not present the community people in court. Sharif Pandor, of Ginore Resources – the mining company the people were acting against – also intervened, calling for their release, but in vain.

Richard Spoor, legal representative for the Maandagshoek Community:
“Government has requested the community to respect the law, whereas government shows scant respect for the law themselves, in that the police have showed contempt for the accused lawful rights by failing to bring them before a court within 48 hours of their arrest. I have no doubt whatsoever that the police have deliberately kept these people in to punish them by keeping them in cold, bitter and uncomfortable positions in the police cells. This is vindictive and malicious conduct by the police ”

The community’s legal team will serve letters of demands for civil damages against the Minister of Law and Order for the actions of the Station Commander and his staff at the Meckleeungburg Police Station, for the unlawful detention of these people.

End

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Footnote:

[1] Names of people arrested are:

1. Gidrude Kgoete
2. Lukas Makula
3. Joseph Makolane
4. Moses Mohlala
5. Tshibiso Madingoane
6. Refilwe Baloyi
7. Lukas Serage
8. Thabo Serage
9. Connie Serage
10. Linah Moime (pregnant)
11. Pinkie Komane Mohubedli
12. Johannes Moropa
13. Ester Mohubedu
14. Colfonia Thotse
15. Maria Kgwetiane (feeding mother)
16. Serisane Mohlala
17. Patricia Mohlala (feeding mother)
18. Nkepo Komane