By Charlie Kimber
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Lockdowns lead to police brutality and repression in many African countries

This article is over 4 years, 2 months old
Issue 2699
Police break up shack dwellings in South Africa
Police break up shack dwellings in South Africa (Pic: Abahlali baseMjondolo)

Widespread poverty and lack of public health services make coronavirus a huge threat to people in Africa. But they also face ferocious attacks from state forces.

Police enforcing a curfew in Kenya had killed at least five people by Thursday of last week. Victims included a 13 year old boy who was shot while sitting with his family on their balcony.

The boy’s father Yusuf Moyo said, “Where is our safety if not in our own homes? We want justice for my boy. I hope the perpetrator does not go unpunished,”

Nurses in Kenya’s capital and at least two towns have launched protests or refused to treat suspected coronavirus patients because the government has not given them enough protective gear or training.

Five soldiers in Rwanada have been arrested. Residents of a slum in the capital, Kigali, alleged that the soldiers raped women as they enforced a nationwide lockdown.

Residents of Nyarutarama said the soldiers also beat up male residents and stole from them.

One of the victims told journalists that on 26 March an armed soldier forced his way into her home and beat up her husband. When she tried to intervene the soldier raped her.

Last week, two men were shot dead after they were caught walking outside.

A 21-day “total lockdown” in Zimbabwe to contain the spread of the virus led to deep anger last week. Police attacked thousands of people queuing outside supermarkets looking to buy the scarce staple maize meal.

Coronavirus means ‘survival of richest’ in Global South, say South African shack dwellers
Coronavirus means ‘survival of richest’ in Global South, say South African shack dwellers
  Read More

Police said 485 people had been arrested as public fear grew over food shortages. They have also rounded up homeless people on the streets of the capital, Harare, and dumped them on waste ground on the edge of the city.

Slum residents say they cannot implement social distancing in overcrowded areas with hardly any services.

More than 17,000 people have been arrested during the first week of the coronavirus lockdown in South Africa.

Police shot two nurses with rubber bullets during a protest at the Bongani Regional Hospital in Welkom, said the Nehawu union.

Health staff were calling on management to provide safe transport to and from work.

In Waterkloof, Pretoria, police arrested a man last week after a group belonging to the ANC Youth League demanded that a Spar supermarket close its doors.

In Port Elizabeth taxi drivers on wildcat strike were attacked by soldiers and military police using stun guns and rubber bullets. Some were arrested and ten taxis were impounded. Shoppers were caught up in the attack and suffered injury.

The drivers blocked several roads and stopped informal taxis operating, demanding the government compensate them for loss of earnings since the lockdown.

On Thursday of last week police minister Bheki Cele said that the authorities had received more than 87,000 complaints of gender-based violence during the first seven days of the lockdown.

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