[SERI press statement] JMPD officials disregard Con Court order, assault and arrest lawyer acting for informal traders

PRESS STATEMENT

Issued by: Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA (SERI)

5 December 2013

JMPD officials disregard Con Court order, assault and arrest lawyer acting for informal traders

Nomzamo Zondo, an attorney from SERI who represents the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) and over 1 200 informal traders, was this afternoon arrested by Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) officers in the Johannesburg CBD.

Her arrest comes only a few hours after the Constitutional Court interdicted the City of Johannesburg from interfering with lawful informal traders’ rights to trade in the inner city, pending the hearing of an application to the High Court to review the decision to implement the so-called Operation Clean Sweep campaign in the inner city.

The JMPD, also a party to the Constitutional Court urgent application, disregarded the order handed down by Moseneke ACJ and prevented the informal traders from setting up their stalls in the places they occupied prior to Operation Clean Sweep, as authorised by the court order.

Zondo was called to the scene and, according to a number of eyewitnesses, when she tried to explain to the JMPD officials what the order meant – that the traders were lawfully allowed to trade – they responded by assaulting and arresting her immediately. She was taken to Johannesburg Central Police Station.

The exact charges and reasons for her arrest remain unknown, over five hours after she was arrested. She has not yet been formally charged, only processed. She has been denied police bail and a prosecutor will only come to the police station to grant prosecutorial bail once an Investigating Officer has been assigned and there is a docket. If it is too late at night, he will not come at all.

Zondo has a five month old baby. If necessary SERI will approach the High Court tonight to get urgent bail granted.

·         Constitutional Court order (5 December 2013) here: http://bit.ly/1bKrzoW  

·         Read more on the SAITF case and find all the papers here: http://bit.ly/1apZ5yw

Contact:

Princess Magopane, candidate attorney at SERI: 082 964 5380

Michael Clark, legal researcher at SERI: 082 535 6209 / michael@seri-sa.org

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