CPFs: Eyes and Fists of State Oppression

Wednesday March 11, 2009

ZACF statement on another murder in Sebokeng at the hands
of the Community Policing Forum.

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) is angered by the killing of a second working class activist youth by the Community Policing Forum (CPF) in Sebokeng in less than a year.

In July of last year Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) activist Mathafeni Majobe was killed by members of the CPF after partaking in a service delivery protest in Sebokeng. This time the victim was Teboho “Diventsha” Tsotetsi, who was stabbed to death in front of his parents on Wednesday 4 March by members of the CPF for refusing to withdraw charges he had laid against those same CPF patrollers, who had severely beaten him and stolen his cell phone and wallet the previous Friday.

The atrocious murder of these two activist youth is not the only indictment against the Community Policing Forums, which time and again have been associated with ill behaviour, criminality and outright reaction.

As has been documented, the CPF in Alexandra township was said to be instigator of the xenophobic pogroms which broke out in Alexandra in May of last year, before spreading across South Africa. Since then a CPF in Durban has been associated with the xenophobic attack which lead to the death of three immigrants when they were forced to jump from the 6th floor of a building by a violent mob – allegedly lead by the CPF – which stormed the building, known to be home to immigrants, earlier this year.

But the reactionary attitude of the CPFs is not limited to their xenophobic attitude towards immigrants. Indeed CPFs are also guilty of helping police repression against social movements by informing on community activists who are struggling for service delivery. As members of the CPFs often know squatter camps and township areas better than the police they work hand in hand with them to point out and arrest community activists – presumably in order to win favour with the police and local ward councilors and shortlist themselves for jobs and service delivery.

But the Zone 20 residents of Sebokeng have shown the way forward for working class communities in dealing with CPF crime and terror, and we hope their actions can serve as an example for poor communities across the country.

On the morning of Tuesday 10 March, from around 04h00 until 11h00, about 1 000 Zone 20 residents barricaded the Golden Highway and other roads leading to it from Sebokeng Zone 20. They demanded to see the police Station Director after hearing rumours that the CPF member who had murdered their comrade and neighbour was walking free after his hearing on Monday 9 March, his charges allegedly dropped. The Station Director and other senior officials came to meet the residents and assured them that the offender was behind bars. The community then demanded that some of them be taken to the prison to verify that he was indeed being held, which they did, confirming that he is awaiting trial on the 17th of March. The community warned the Station Director that, if he is released, they will deal with him themselves as they demand to see justice served.

After that residents demanded that the Zone 20 CPF be disbanded with immediate effect, and that the residents assume responsibility for keeping their community safe. The Station Director and other senior officials present conceded to this demand, resulting in an important working class victory for the residents of Zone 20 Sebokeng. We do not believe, however, that it is within the jurisdiction of the Station Director to disband the CPF, and it is possible that he was just conceding to this demand in order to appease the residents and disperse the crowd. We hope therefore that Zone 20 residents will remain vigilant in insuring that the CPF is indeed disbanded and does not continue its criminal activities under any pretext.

We as the ZACF fully support the demands made by the Radical Youth Network, Anti-Privatisation Forum and Sebokeng Zone 20 residents that all activities of the CPF in the area be immediately suspended. In fact we believe that the CPFs nationwide do not serve the poor communities from which they are drawn, but that they are comprised of the most reactionary and opportunistic elements of those communities; of people who are willing to sell out, rob and kill their neighbours for small reward. The only difference between the CPFs and ordinary criminals is that the CPFs are able to operate with impunity alongside the police because of the authority and legitimacy this association with the state supposedly gives them.

We believe that the CPFs are illegitimate tools not of protection, but of repression, as they do not have a mandate from the communities in which they operate and the members are not delegated by the communities. Accordingly we believe that all CPFs must be disbanded, and that working class and poor communities across the country can then take it upon themselves, wherever possible, to organise community self-defence units, block-watches and street committees to patrol the streets and keep them safe and free from crime.

These committees should comprise community members who are democratically elected by the communities themselves and act according to the mandates of the community. Members could be immediately recallable by the community in order to ensure that they represent the will of the people and do not develop their own interests, different to those of the community, or transform into vigilante mobs. They should not have any association whatsoever with the SAPS which, as we well know, is the armed fist of capital and does not serve the interests of the poor and working poor but those of the bosses and politicians.

South Africa has a proud history of defending our communities from the repressive forces of state and capital, and it is high time we return to this tradition. We cannot rely on the police or government initiatives like the CPF to solve the problems of crime and violence in our communities, as they are the very same ones that are defending and upholding the system of social inequality which is the cause of these problems in the first place.

We need to abandon all faith in the government and capital and build our own mass-based and democratic organs of community self-governance and self-defence, and in so doing make our communities more self-reliant and begin to sow the seeds for a mass-based revolutionary movement that is outside of and against the state – the only kind of movement capable of overthrowing capitalism and the state and replacing it with a society of free equals; with free communism.

The residents of Sebokeng Zone 20 have shown that, through militant mass direct action and solidarity, the popular classes can chase out those reactionary elements in their communities which benefit from the suffering of others, and can indeed begin to take control of their communities and their lives. Let this be an example to all poor and working class communities suffering at the hands of the police and their illegitimate CPF allies.

We will make this country ungovernable again!

We kicked out the racists; we can kick out the CPF, the SAPS
and the bosses and politicians too!