Unemployment activist in hot water over ‘one-man protest’

Heidedal Unemployed Forum founder and chairperson, Benji Williams. PHOTO: SEITHATI SEMENOKANE

Heidedal Unemployed Forum (HUF) founder and chairperson, Benji Williams, was removed from protesting in front of the Free State Regional Correctional Services’ offices in Bloemfontein on Monday morning.

Bloemfontein Courant rushed to the scene when it got word of Williams’ imminent “arrest”. At the scene a police officer explained that they did not arrest him, but that they were only removing him because he did not have permission to protest and that he had chained himself up as part of his protest.

“This was giving the impression that the police have chained him up, especially because he was doing this in front of correctional services,” said the police officer.

Williams, who is a well-known advocate for the rights of ex-convicts and an unemployment activist, said his one-man protest was about the fact that once offenders leave prison they do not have any means of getting by, thus leading them back to a life of crime.
“Once offenders are being released, they find it almost impossible to find employment and often all they can do is recruit younger criminals to teach them their skills. Correctional services need to focus more on rehabilitation,” he said.

When Bloemfontein Courant arrived at Park Road Police Station, where the police had initially taken him, he was at the back of one of the vans. The police then informed him that they were taking him home.

Williams, however, contacted Bloemfontein Courant to inform the paper that the police had not dropped him off at home, but are instead driving around with him. – Seithati Semenokane