The sentence handed down to nine Ses’khona People’s Rights Movement members for dumping faeces at Cape Town International Airport two years ago is “a shame”, leader Andile Lili said on Wednesday.
Magistrate Nonkosi Sabi earlier sentenced the group to three years imprisonment, suspended for five years, after they were found guilty of contravening the Civil Aviation Act in February.
As the crowds cheered when Lili and his co-accused left the Bellville Magistrate’s Court, he told the masses that while he understands that supporters are happy that they will not be spending time behind bars, he is disappointed by the sentence.
“This is a shocking decision. I don’t see us celebrating this or seeing it as a victory.
“It oppresses the poor for fighting for their rights. It’s a shame.”
Lili insisted the “Devil’s Alliance” were responsible for the protests.
“Why did we do this in the first place? People were forced to live with the faeces for three months. We had to take action.”
The faeces was collected from communal toilets in areas such as Gugulethu and Khayelitsha as a labour dispute resulted in the ablution facilities not being emptied for three months.
“The magistrate said that [dumping faeces at the airport] could have endangered the lives of others. What about those forced to live with faeces 24/7 for more than three months?
“The [magistrate’s] decision is a disappointment.”
‘Not hardened criminals’
Sabi earlier said the actions of the nine accused were “not only embarrassing to the country as a whole, but it infringed on the rights and human dignity of others”, who had been exposed to the faeces dumped at the airport.
Despite this, she said she believed the nine were “not hardened criminals” and that they could “contribute positively to society”.
Lili said it was unacceptable that they had been branded criminals.
“Why mustn’t we fight for our rights? Who is going to fight for us if we don’t?
“I was pained when magistrate said we are not dangerous criminals. Which means were are criminals. For fighting for our rights you are a criminal!” he said, as supporters shouted in outrage.
Provincial ANC chairperson Marius Fransman along with other members of the party’s provincial executive also attended the sentencing proceedings.
“This trial was not a trial against Andile, [Ses’khona secretary] Loyiso [Nkohla] and seven others. It was a trial against the dignity of poor people in the Western Cape.” News24