criminal trial - Abahlali baseMjondolo - Kennedy 12 - Durban Regional Court
SERI, together with Trudie Nichols Attorneys in Durban, provides legal representation to 12 activists brought to trial on spurious charges in the Durban Regional Court. On 27 and 28 September 2009, armed attacks took place on Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) members residing in Kennedy Road Informal Settlement, where a number of members were evicted from the settlement by an armed gang, with police complicity.
In the aftermath, 12 members of AbM were brought to trial on charges ranging from public violence to murder in what was a highly politicised trial with little to no evidence supplied by the state.
On 18 July 2011, the trial eventually concluded with all 12 members being acquitted of all charges. The charges were based on evidence which now appears almost certainly to have been manufactured. Magistrate Sharon Marks dismissed all of the charges against the activists after she labelled the state’s witnesses “belligerent”, “unreliable” and “dishonest”. Magistrate Marks found that, while she had no doubt that violence had taken place in the Kennedy Road settlement in late September 2009, there was no evidence that the AbM activists had been responsible. She expressed disquiet that police identity parade witnesses had been coached to point out members of an Imfene dance group closely associated with AbM – rather than anyone who had been seen perpetrating any of the violence.