Unemployed People's Movement leader Ayanda Kota was arrested on a charge of theft on Thursday afternoon, and allegedly assaulted by police in front of his 6-year-old son.
Kota was released on R500 bail for charges of theft, resisting arrest and assault (of police), although he claims the circumstances of his arrest are uncertain.
A Rhodes University academic had laid a charge of theft against Kota after he failed to return a book she had lent him.
Kota, who appeared to be in some pain during his court appeareance today, said he was summoned to the Grahamstown police station without reason. He said that when he arrived, he was physically attacked by policemen in front of his 6 year-old son and another Rhodes University lecturer, Richard Pithouse.
“When Ayanda was on the ground being beaten by the police, one of them said 'Come and see the newsmaker of the year now” said Pithouse. "It looked like they [the police] were enjoying the attack - it was plainly about vengeance and intimidation, and the charges are completely bogus," he added.
UPM secretary Xola Mali said in a press release issued yesterday: "For some months he [Kota] has been under open police surveillance and at times has been threatened and insulted by the police. The police have been watching his mother's house and have searched it looking for him. Their behaviour has been very rude, threatening and aggressive."
"This is a simple attempt on the part of the police to misuse a ridiculous charge [...] in order to intimidate an activist and the movement that he represents," stated the press release.
"This will not end here - we will make sure that the police pay for the trauama of Ayanda and his son. We're going to paint High Street red with our anger. This police brutality must stop," said Bahle Sofute, a member of the UPM.
Kota's court case will commence on 29 February 2012.
UPM leader Ayanda Kota outside the Grahamstown magistrate's court today demonstrating how he was allegedly attacked by police yesterday. His aunt, Ntombizodwa Kota, and fellow UPM member Sithe Mbiso look on. Photo: Desiree Schirlinger