criminal trial – Thembelihle – protests - Protea Regional Court
SERI represents 14 residents of the Thembelihle informal settlement in Johannesburg (including 3 minors), who were arrested in late 2011 following protests at the settlement around housing and electricity in September 2011. SERI stepped in to represent the accused when it became clear that the main purpose of the prosecution was to punish the residents for having embarked upon legitimate and lawful demonstrations.
On 10 April 2012, the Protea Regional Court struck the case from the roll. The state's conduct of the prosecution clearly indicated that its purpose was political. Despite being given seven months – and 9 postponements – to prepare its case, the state could not even produce an adequate charge sheet with details of the offences of which the residents stood accused. The Presiding Officer, Magistrate Mpofu, echoed SERI’s sentiments that it was unfair to expect the accused to keep coming to court for no purpose – given that the state was unable to provide any particulars of the charges against them.
The matter was re-enrolled and the trial was set down for 6 August 2012, where it was again struck from the roll as the state failed to serve most of the accused with summons.