Pubdate: Wed, 12 Sep 2007
Source: Citizen, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2007 The Citizen


Mitchell's Plain police made a mistake arresting DA leader Helen 
Zille. Those who imagine theres's a Zimbabwe-style political motive are wrong.

Even ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe says police could have 
acted with restraint against her. So we don't think any order came 
from on high, as happens in Zim where opponents are routinely 
detained by Robert Mugabe's jackboots.

Zille was arrested along with 15 other anti-drug protesters when she 
went to the police station to find out why march leader Moulana Maker 
had been held. Given the levels of incompetence in the SAPS, we can't 
expect every officer to understand the consequences of their 
heavy-handedness. But the attempt by MEC Leonard Ramatlakane to 
justify the arrest is lamentable.

Zille has a compelling argument when she says: "Everyone knows who 
the drug dealers in Mitchell's Plain are, and where they ply their 
trade -- why are they not arrested? Why are people on a legal and 
peaceful anti-drug march placed under heavy police surveillance, 
harassment and arrest? There is something profoundly wrong with the 
situation. The police should regard anti-drug activists as their 
allies, not their enemies."

Indeed, and the drug problem is at the centre of the high crime rate 
on the Cape Flats. Zille, Mayor of Cape Town, has a long history of 
such responsible community activism. She was doing her civic duty in 
an exemplary manner, yet Ramatlakane accuses her of consorting with vigilantes.

While Zille and company intend suing for wrongful arrest and 
malicious prosecution, the Mitchell's Plain SAPS have brought their 
own weakness into the spotlight.

Why have they not taken firmer action against drug dealers? Is there corruption?
- ---
MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart