Cardiff: Hundreds protest to free Siyanda
Joe Fathallah, Cardiff East Socialist Party
300 people attended a demonstration in Cardiff city centre on 10 April in support of Siyanda Mngaza, organised by Young Socialists Wales. Siyanda is an innocent black woman serving a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence.
In May 2019, Siyanda was brutally attacked by a group of three people, two of them male and all three much bigger than her, while also being racially abused. Siyanda is disabled and struggled to defend herself. She was left with awful facial injuries, which are documented in her medical records, and even in Dyfed-Powys Police's own custody photos.
None of Siyanda's attackers were arrested, but instead she was charged and convicted of GBH, based on the testimony of her attackers and their friends as witnesses! Her recent appeal was dismissed by a single judge, who failed to even offer a retrial despite overwhelming evidence that prosecution witnesses had lied in the original trial.
Cammilla Mngaza - Siyanda's mother and a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate in May's Wales Senedd elections - spoke passionately about her fight for justice for her daughter.
Speakers at the rally spoke about institutional racism in the police in Wales; how, for example, Siyanda's complaint of racism against her attackers was not followed up properly by Dyfed-Powys Police.
The case of Mohamud Hassan, who died after release from the custody of South Wales Police earlier this year, is still being protested. Mohamud, who had previously met Siyanda, suffered terrible injuries in custody, and no answers have been forthcoming as to what happened to him. At least five police officers are being investigated, but none have been suspended, let alone charged, over his death.
Socialist Party member Dave Bartlett spoke to give solidarity greetings to the campaign from Cardiff Trades Union Council. Trade union branches and bodies across Wales, all the way up to the Wales TUC, have passed motions in support of the Free Siyanda campaign.
Dave explained the need to build class solidarity against racism and police brutality, and for democratic community control of the police, to hold them accountable for injustices and institutional racism.
South Wales Police kept a low profile on the protest, no doubt aware of how their past actions are now coming under scrutiny. But many passers-by stopped to listen to the speeches and learn about Siyanda's case.
We will keep fighting for justice for Siyanda, and to remove this rotten capitalist system, which needs racism to keep working-class people divided.
- Visit freesiyanda.com for more about this campaign
In The Socialist 14 April 2021:
Lessons from history