Open letter to the members of the South African Police Services

Tuesday, 03 November 2015

To serve and to protect

We write to you, the police, as the participants of groundWork’s Environmental Justice School 2015. The Environmental Justice School is a project that brings together activists from all over the world. In our activist hats, we recognise the students’ #FeesMustFall struggles and we are sympathetic to the police brutality and we feel that these children should not be chastised for advocating for their constitutional right to free education for all.

You are our brothers and sisters. We grew up together in the dusty streets of ekasi. You are our mothers and you are our fathers. You raised us with the principles of Ubuntu and taught us that we can be anything we want to be.

Here we are on opposite sides of the shot gun barrel. We are screaming ‘Fees must fall!’ and you are here to stop us.

Do you not know that this is a revolution?

A revolution to ensure that your children will be able to receive the best education regardless of their parents’ financial status.

If education is the key to unlock the golden door to freedom, why must it be only limited to the rich? Are the poor not allowed this freedom?

Eish! Those too rich for NSFAS and too poor for varsity. What is supposed to happen to us?
Now tell us this, when this is over and your children are asking ‘What role did you play in the struggle for free education?” What stories do you want to tell them?

Do you want to tell them that you served the capitalist system that sought to keep the poor poorer and the rich richer?

Do you want to tell them that your protected Blade Ndimande’s arrogance when he said students must fall?

Brothers and sisters, you have a role to play, an important role and that role is not being barriers to freedom or the emancipation of your children.

That role is to serve and protect us by standing side-by-side with us in this struggle. So that when you go home and you are kissing your children goodnight, you can say “I helped in #FeesMustFalll so that you can be truly free”.

Issued by the 20 student activists from South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and Sweden at the Environmental Justice School held by groundWork (Friends of the Earth South Africa) from 12 – 30 October 2015 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.