Abahlali baseMjondolo (meaning people living in shacks) was established in 2005 to promote the rights of shack dwellers in and around the city of Durban. The group is led by tens of thousands of shack dwellers in the region and has emerged as an effective and powerful voice for the poor. The group is in the forefront of a wave of mass mobilizations across South Africa. As reported on NESRI:
Abahlali works to protect and fulfill shack-dwellers’ rights, including the human rights to adequate housing, freedom from forced eviction, and participation in public decision-making. The movement seeks to ensure that post-apartheid South Africa protects communities from abuse, using a range of strategies from mass mobilizations to legal strategies seeking to enforce the South African constitution’s protection of social and economic rights to achieve their goals. Abahlali are calling on supporters of human rights in South Africa and around the world to show global solidarity with their struggle for the recognition of universal housing rights – a right codified in the South African constitution – and freedom from forced evictions in the face of escalating and ongoing state repression.
Its key demand is that the social value of land should take priority over its commercial value and it campaigns for public expropriation of large private land holdings. It refuses to take part in party politics, boycotting elections and has been subjected to a long campaign of llegal harassment by the state, with over 200 arrests of its members over the last three years and many incidents of police brutality in homes, streets and when under arrest.
This is the multitude in action.
Nqobile Nzuza, a 17-year old girl was gunned down by police in late September. Nqobile was an Abahlali baseMjondolo supporter. Other supporters and activists with the movement have also been shot in recent days as part of a shoot to kill policing policy. This is the State in action.
According to a press statement from the group released on September 30:
On Saturday 21 September 2013, Mr. Goven from the Land Invasions Unit shot Nkosinathi Mngomezulu in the stomach during an illegal eviction in Cato Crest. Mr. Goven is not arrested yet Mngomezulu is under arrest in hospital. Our members have been assaulted in the Cato Crest police station after evictions and protests, and yet no action is taken against the officers that beat our members.
We have been subject to illegal evictions nine times in Cato Crest. Our court orders are just ignored and yet the Land Invasions Unit are never arrested. On the 26th of June 2013, Nkululeko Gwala was assassinated in Cato Crest. No one is arrested for this crime. We all know that it has not been properly investigated. Three months earlier, Thembikosi Qumbelo was assassinated. Again there are no arrests and there has been no proper investigation. ANC members openly threaten us with death and the police never act against them.
This morning around 500 members of Abahlali baseCato Crest organized a road blockade. They also organized road blockades last week along with comrades in other areas like Clare Estate and Isipingo. The reason for the road blockades is that although we were thousands in our march on the City Hall on 16 September 2013, our memoranda were not answered. The road blockades were organized to force the City to answer our memoranda. The Cato Crest memorandum at the march demanded that the City stop its illegal evictions in the area, stop its corruption, stop trying to divide people by the provinces that they come from, stop lying and saying that Xhosa-speaking people are new to Durban, stop saying that Xhosa speaking people must ‘go back to the Transkei’ and that the ANC, the City and the police must stop the illegal and violent repression of our members and our struggle.
Abahlali members say that they saw the Cato Manor Station Commander shooting Nqobile Nzuza at the road blockade this morning. They say that he was not in his uniform when he murdered her but that he came back later in his police full uniform. Our members witnessed what happened and are willing to tell anyone what they saw...
The police are claiming that they had to shoot with live ammunition to save their lives. This is a simple lie. We note that some media are repotting the police statement on this matter as if it is the truth. We would like to remind the media that the police in Durban have a long history of lying. Remember how they lied about Marikana! Remember how they lied about the attack on our movement in the Kennedy Road settlement in 2009! Remember how in 2006 they lied and said that they had shot Monica Ngcobo, a 19 year old woman, in the stomach with rubber bullets at a protest in Umlazi and yet the autopsy showed that she was shot in the chest with a shotgun.
We have exposed police lies in court on many occasions. We will expose today’s lies in court too. The police are not to be trusted. We urge all media to please make their own investigations and give everyone a chance to speak before reporting the lies of the police as if they are facts. Do not believe anything that they say unless they bring credible evidence to support what they are saying. Police spokespeople are paid liars. It is simple as that.
When I am talking about the multitudes taking on the Empire, THIS is what I am talking about.
The following is from the San Francisco Bay View.
BANDILE MDLALOSE ARRESTED, DENIED
BAIL, 17-YEAR OLD SUPPORTER SHOT DEAD BY POLICE