South Africa: Lockdown - They're Riding Around the Country Hunting the Poor and Vulnerable

South African Police shut down spaza shops in Govan Mbeki Township in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

'If they're doing this in leafy Melville, imagine what they're doing in the townships, informal settlements and packed low-income urban areas.'

On the first morning of lockdown, a team of police officers and private security contractors with assault rifles forced their way into our home. They patted us down, searched the whole house, poured our beer into the fireplace and aggressively interrogated and berated us.

When I tried to walk out of a narrowly crowded passageway, a security contractor stepped in front of me and said, "I'm not police, I don't have to abide by their rules, I'll break your fucking face." I asked him why he would break my face. What I really wanted to ask is why he was wearing one of those balaclavas with the fascist-style print on the front. But then he put his hand on his weapon, so I did as he commanded.

Ten minutes earlier I had been in bed using my laptop. My brother had noticed commotion as the police gathered around a homeless man who lives on the pavement across from our home in Melville. Since the announcement of the lockdown, we had been concerned about the many people who live and/or...

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