Mzonke Poni on Public Violence

Mzonke Poni of Abahlali baseMjondolo Western Cape is scheduled to go on trial today for a charge of “PUBLIC VIOLENCE”. In this essay, Poni eloquently discusses the notion of “public violence” asking what is it? who counts as the public? and most importantly what counts as violence – direct action and peaceful protest by the PUBLIC or the destruction of shacks and property by the state security forces?

Here is the first question that I want to raise: What exactly is public violence? Is it doing something in public which is against the will of the public? Or is to commit an act that affects the public? Or is it an act in public that is against the law? Or is it a public act of violence by an unruly mob? The last definition is based on the English dictionary which confirms to me that it is a bunch of people who commit public violence. ……Continue Reading

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