Monday, May 11, 2009

Loitering crap

If you are poor and black and happen to be on a sidewalk in downtown Joburg, there is a strong chance that you may have been arrested for loitering. In the past 2 months, the police have intensified their enforcement and have exclusively targeted poor black people, mainly street vendors and trolley pushers.

By virtue of its definition, loitering means standing around without intent. The people who are being arrested are entrepreneurial. People are being arrested for standing, walking, talking, sitting, selling, waiting...for being poor and black.

A feature of the enforcement campaign has been excessive bribery and corruption by the police officers. The price to be released on the street is R100. Recently both Hansa Monsaka and Keith Busani were arrested for loitering. Hansa was left handcuffed against a fence for most of the day as police waited to extract a bribe from him.

Police Truck Drill Hall

Much of the police activity has intensified with the onset of the BRT construction work downtown. There seems to be a coordinated effort by the city, to upgrade the road infrastructure as well as 'clean' the sidewalks of undesirable people - People who are not considered part of the vision for the regenerated city.

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