The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front wishes to express its heartfelt solidarity with Mr Jerome Daniels and Mr Ridwaan Isaacs – two Delft Anti-Eviction Campaign members who, on Wednesday 2nd July, were sentenced to 12 months in prison for their political and social activism.
The two – one of whom was not even present in the community when the incident in question took place – maintained their innocence in the face of charges of malicious damage to property; although it is clear that what was really on trial was their role as community activists in the Delft-Symphony Way settlement. The testimony of one Mrs Evelyn Mokoena, who was speaking in defence of the accused, was repeatedly interrupted when the magistrate questioned the defendants about their involvement in the Anti-Eviction Campaign, a grassroots and autonomous social movement.
In passing his verdict Magistrate Van Graan said that he was holding Mr Daniels and Mr Isaacs responsible for the actions of their community; which dismantled the tent of one of its residents after a person the owner, Elmory Isaacs, allowed to stay in her tent threatened other community residents with violence. She acknowledged, however, that when the evicted occupants of the Delft Symphony N2 Gateway homes began their pavement encampment they agreed – as a community – to remove anyone who threatened or used violence against other community members. When it became evident that it was the community as a whole which took the decision to dismantle Ms Isaacs’ tent the magistrate said “I can’t understand under what circumstances does the community take a decision? […] Is this what is happening in this country? Is this thing justifiable?”.
It appears clear to us from the above statement that what the magistrate particularly objected to was community self-organisation independent from the state. Therefore it was arguably not just a political judgment, but specifically a political judgment against libertarian collectivism. A judgment against working class and poor people struggling for collective control over their lives and communities; a judgment against poor people having decision-making power over the issues which directly effect them.
Despite the defence attorney recommending a warning as opposed to the magistrate’s sentence, as both the accused have children, and the prosecutor suggesting a fine but not any jail-time the magistrate sentenced the accused to serve 12 months each in Goodwood Prison, with a possibility of a six month suspension for good behaviour.
The magistrate argued that he had to teach the Anti-Eviction Campaign a lesson, and it is therefore plain to see that the accused are being persecuted and victimised for their political activism. We as ZACF support the assertion of the AEC and Symphony Way residents that Mr Isaacs and Mr Daniels are political prisoners being held hostage by the state – the armed defender of oppression and injustice – for their political activism and for fighting for a better life for their families and community.
Because we believe this to be such an outrageous judgment we feel there is a good chance of having it overturned and have therefore, with minor contributions from the Active Resistance initiative, already contributed half of the amount the AEC required in order to appeal the finding. We challenge all our comrades and supporters of the AEC and progressive social movements to raise whatever amount still be required.
We vehemently condemn the unjust conviction of these two community activists whose only crime is to fight for a better life; and we fully support the AEC and Symphony Way residents in seeking their release before the end of the month.
Free Jerome Daniels and Ridwaan Isaacs!
Free all political prisoners of the class war!
Wednesday, 9th July, 2008.