Ayanda Kota arrested: Come and see the newsmaker of the year now





KPFA Weekend News, 01.14.2012:  



UPM leader Ayanda Kota outside the Grahamstown magistrate's court on Friday, January 12, 2012 demonstrating how he was allegedly attacked by police the day before. His aunt, Ntombizodwa Kota, and fellow UPM member Sithe Mbiso look on. Grocott's Online published this photo and reported that Kota appeared to be in some pain at the hearing. Photo: Desiree Schirlinger

KPFA Weekend News Anchor Cameron Jones: On Thursday, Grahamstown, South Africa police brutally beat and arrested Ayanda Kota, Chairperson of the Grahamstown Unemployed People's Movement and an Occupy South Africa activist.  A witness said that while they were beating him, one of the police said, "Come and see the newsmaker of the year now." KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story.  
KPFA/Ann Garrison: On Sunday, January 8th, South Africa's ruling African National Congress Party celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding and its 1994 triumph over apartheid.  The next day Ayanda Kota published "ANC Centenary: a display of elite power," an essay in which he describes the ANC as a government by, for, and of the elites and the ANC Centenary as, quote, "a hugely expensive spectacle designed to drug us against our own oppression and disempowerment," unquote.  He writes that South Africa's 70% majority live in poverty, shacks are everywhere, unemployment is skyrocketing, and the heights of the economy remain in the hands of a tiny elite, most of which is white, though a Black capitalist middle class presents the world with a racially integrated image.
Three days later, on Thursday, the Grahamstown Unemployed People's Union issued a release stating that Kota had been assaulted by a group of police officers in the Grahamstown police station. And that he was dragged, bleeding from at least two wounds, with his clothes torn from his body, to the holding cells.  He had been summoned to the station for borrowing a book and failing to return it, but his group said that police had arrested him on this ridiculous charge to intimidate him and the movement he represents. On Friday Kota was charged with theft, resisting arrest, and assaulting the officers arresting him.
Today he told KPFA that this wasn't the first time he's been arrested and he doesn't expect it to be the last.

Ayanda Kota: Most definitely it was not the first time. We were arrested in Capetown, when we had a demonstration on the opening of Parliament. We had a banner that was asking, "WHERE ARE THE HALF A MILLION JOBS THAT YOU PROMISED SOUTH AFRICANS?" We were detained by the police. We were pepper sprayed by the police. At a later stage all the charges were dropped against us. Earlier last year we were arrested again; we were handcuffed. Again, the charges were dropped against us. So again, I am arrested and I'm definitely sure that the charges will be dropped. It just tells you they must intimidate us. They must inflict pain on us.

KPFA: He also said that the South African police are richly rewarded for maintaining social order despite such extreme poverty and lack of basic services like clean water, plumbing, and sanitation.

Ayanda Kota: They get the crumbs from the table of the master. And until they join the struggle, they will always act in the interest of those who employ them.

KPFA: Ayanda Kota's essay "ANC Centenary: a display of elite power" may be found on the websites of Anarchismo, the Pambazuka News, or allAfrica.com.  His essay, and the Grahamstown Unemployed People's Union's account of his arrest, can be found on the San Francisco Bay View, sfbayview.com.
For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I'm Ann Garrison.

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