Tag Archives: Durban

ANC grassroots intimidation continues

The ANC appears determined to extinguish political dissent in the impoverished Kennedy Road community. Last month, Afrodissident reported how ANC-affiliated thugs rampaged through Durban’s Kennedy Road township, demolishing homes, and attacking people with knives and sticks. The victims were members of the Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) shack dwellers’ movement. Ironically, though, thirteen AbM members were arrested and have been kept in the Westville Prison.

On Monday they were denied bail. Below is a statement from the AbM outlining the methods of intimidation employed by the ANC at the court house:

Still No Bail for the Kennedy Road 13 as the Attack on our Movement Continues

The Kennedy Road 13 returned to the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Monday 26 October to hear the verdict on their application for bail. The Kennedy 13 were not given bail and remain in Westville Prison. The magistrate will take a final decision on their application for bail on Monday next week.

Once again the ANC mob had been bussed in and there was a further escalation of threats against us. New people were targeted and threatened with death. Even at the Durban Magistrate’s Court, in full public view, we are not safe and our basic democratic rights to speak and associate freely are being denied.

The threats of death and harm from the mouths and at the hands of self-proclaimed ANC members and officials, which started at the Kennedy Road settlement, has followed us into the Court. The violence and intimidation, which started at Kennedy Road, is not over. It is far from over. It continues. Our movement is still under attack, and our members – in Kennedy Road, and now also in other settlements, continue to be scattered by threats of violence. Even as we declare to ourselves and the world that we will not be silenced by the ANC we continue to live in fear that free speech, free movement and free association could get us killed.

The Secretary of our Youth League has now been forced into hiding after receiving public death threats. Armed young thugs followed her from the Court, to the street, to the taxis, to her home (which is not in the Kennedy Road settlement). This is in spite of the fact that the world is watching the ongoing attack on our movement. In spite of the world watching – in spite of protests at South African embassies, on university campuses, in spite of statements by respected church leaders, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Housing, and various human rights organisations, many of us cannot return to our homes, many of us remain in hiding and we must still must hold our meetings in secret. In spite of the the world watching, we cannot go to the court without facing young men threatening us with words or weapons. They bring knobkerries and bushknives to court, and openly boast that they are armed and will kill.

In spite of all this, we hear the ANC at top levels talking about militarizing the police, the same police who have already so often used their weapons against us. In spite of all of this, we hear the ANC at top levels talking about silencing “enemies of the ANC.” We know exactly what they mean as their self-proclaimed members have already tried to silence us. In spite of all this, the ANC at top levels have not condemned the violence and intimidation against our movement. There has not been one statement from the ANC about the fact that we were attacked that night, not one statement about the fact that our leaders have had their homes destroyed and been chased from their community, not one statement about the fact that freely elected community structures have been declared illegitimate because they are not ANC structures, not one statement about the fact that our movement has been banned from Kennedy Road, not one statement about the fact that our leaders, including those outside of Kennedy Road, continue to be targeted. We have not seen one statement from the ANC condemning Willies Mchunu for claiming to have ‘liberated’ Kennedy Road.

We are again calling on the honest and democratic members of the ANC not to be silenced, but to oppose those who corrupt their movement with lies, intimidation and oppression. Honest and democratic members of the ANC are the defenders of their movement, not its enemies. If the honest and democratic members of the ANC do not prevail at this time the organisation will become an enemy of our democracy. We are asking the honest and democratic members of the ANC to support our right to organise independently. We are asking them to defend democracy. We are asking them to defend us.

Yesterday at Court, the ANC again sent two hired buses with people to intimidate us. Most of the self-proclaimed ANC members on the buses were not from Kennedy Road.

Inside the Court yesterday, there was pushing, shouting and shoving – once again, Abahlali members were physically prevented from entering the courtroom.

Inside the Court yesterday, when the judge came in, those from the ANC buses held up signs on big flowchart paper with different colour slogans such as “Asikufuni Zikode Nababulali” (We don’t want [Abahlali President S’bu] Zikode and the killers).

Outside the Court, those from the ANC buses were toyi-toying outside a gate. When our members stood together quietly, far from the gate, to be briefed about the result of the bail hearing, a group from the ANC buses, mostly young men, moved toward us, shouting and threatening us. They came very close. We just stood quietly.

A Reverend from the Diakonia Council of Churches tried to calmly step between us and the young men. He asked them to please be calm and stand back. Some of the young men began shouting at him in English and isiZulu: “You are just an umlungu!”, “You are supporting the killers!” and “We can kill you!”

A woman, who identified herself to the Reverend as a local councilor, was leading the young men. She was dressed in ANC garb head-to-toe. She shouted at the Reverend, and told him it was not a matter of the ANC, but a matter of the community. But she is not Yacoob Baig, the local ANC councilor of Ward 25, where the community of Kennedy Road is located.

If this is ‘just a matter for the community’ what is an ANC councilor from another ward doing with bussed-in ANC members from outside of Kennedy Road and issuing death threats to respected church leaders at Court? What are Jackson Gumede, Yacoob Baig and other ANC officials doing at Court, watching, as men – visibly armed and wearing ANC t-shirts – openly threaten us, calling for the death of the Secretary of our Youth Leauge, our Women’s League Chairperson, and our other leaders? Why are AbM leaders from outside of Kennedy Road being threatened? Why is S’bu Zikode being targeted when he was not even in Durban on the night of the attack on our movement? It is completely obvious that the ANC is waging a political attack on our movement.

Mr. Mchunu we need an urgent and genuinely independent and credible investigation into this attack. Our demand is for openness and fairness. How can you deny this demand? If you continue to deny this demand how can you expect people to not conclude that you have something to hide? It is obvious that the ANC cannot investigate themselves. There has to be a genuinely independent and credible investigation into this attack. Mr. Mchunu, if you want to be the Minister for the Safety and Security of all people and not the Minister in charge of attacking the people who have embarrassed the ANC then we need you to start calling for an independent and credible investigation into this attack as soon as possible.


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TAC speaks out on ANC-affiliated attacks

The Treatment Action Campaign has released a statement regarding the attacks on the Kennedy Road settlement in Durban by ANC-affiliated militia:

Attacks on Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and the AIDS Law Project (ALP) are concerned by reports of violence and intimidation against members of the Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement (ABM) in the Kennedy Road informal settlement in Durban. ABM is a community based organisation that works to improve conditions for shack dwellers.

According to a statement released by several civil society groups, local ANC people allegedly drove leaders of the ABM and others out of the settlement. We have received further reports that the people carrying out the attacks sang anti Mpondo slogans and that the police allowed the violent attacks to be carried out. Furthermore, it is alleged that the police, instead of arresting the attackers, have arrested members of the Kennedy Road Development Committee, an organisation targeted by the attackers.

If the allegations being made are true, they are extremely serious. Violence was often used under the apartheid government to secure political advantage in Kwazulu-Natal. These methods should be confined to our past. South Africa is now a constitutional democracy in which the only mechanisms of securing political power should be non-violent and lawful.

We call on President Jacob Zuma, the South African Human Rights Commission and the Independent Complaints Directorate to meet with the residents of Kennedy Road and to investigate the allegations against the local ANC branch and the police.

To sign a petition in support of the Kennedy Road residents please click here.

–End of Statement–

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“The ANC has invaded Kennedy Road”

Here is a piece by Sibusiso Zikode, the head of the Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) shack dwellers’ movement, about the aftermath of politically-motivated violence against members of his community:

The ANC Has Invaded Kennedy Road

The ANC has invaded Kennedy Road. We have been arrested, beaten, killed, jailed and made homeless by their armed wing. This is what it took for Yakoob Baig and Jackson Gumede to finally take back the settlement.

This is not just an attack on the KRDC [Kennedy Road Development Committee]. It is not just an attack on AbM. It is an attack on our politic.

This attack is an attempt to suppress the voice that has emerged from the dark corners of our country. That voice is the voice of ordinary poor people. This attack is an attempt to terrorise that voice back into the dark corners.

Yakoob Baig says that ‘harmony’ has been restored. For the ANC harmony means their power and our silence. For us our silence means evictions, shack fires, children dying of diarrhoea and the organised contempt that we face day after day. Therefore we have to speak. We have to break the ‘harmony’ that is our silence in the face of our oppression.

Our movement has won many victories. We have forced the state to accept that there will be nothing for us without us. We have forced the state to accept that they must negotiate our development with us. Our politics is a common politics. We have, in many places, raised the common politics above the politicians’ politics. For this some politicians hate us.

And we must not forget that we have exposed the corruption of many senior officials – most recently in Siyanda, eShowe, Mpola and Howick. We have also exposed how ‘housing delivery’ is actually a form of oppression breaking up communities and forcing people into ghettos far outside the cities. We have done this most famously with our case in the Constitutional Court against the Slums Act. That judgment will be coming out very soon.

For all these reasons the strength of the movement, the strength of those who are supposed to be weak and silent and powerless, is taken as a threat.

Our crime is a simple one. We are guilty of giving the poor the courage to organise the poor. We are guilty of trying to give ourselves human values. We are guilty of expressing our views.

In this time when we are scattered between the Sydenham jail, hospitals, the homes of relatives and comrades, or even sleeping in the bushes in the rain, we are asking for solidarity. In this time when we do not know if the state will allow us to continue to exist we are asking for solidarity. In this time when we do not know if we will also be attacked in Motala Heights or Siyanda or anywhere else we are asking for solidarity.

Our message to the movements, the academics, the churches and the human rights groups is this:

We are calling for close and careful scrutiny into the nature of democracy in South Africa.

Sibusiso Innocent Zikode
President of Abahlali baseMjondolo (and, consequently, political refugee)

The ANC Has Invaded Kennedy Road

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“ANC militia” attacks Durban township

On Saturday night, forty or so armed men went on the rampage in Durban’s Kennedy Road township, demolishing homes, and attacking people with knives and sticks. Below is a statement from the Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) shack dwellers’ movement which was conducting a youth camp at the time of the attack. The AbM believes that the attacks are an attempt by the head of the local ANC branch to assert his dominance within the community. For more information, visit the AbM’s website.

Here is the AbM’s statement:

Kennedy Road Development Committee Attacked – People Have Been Killed

Last night at about 11:30 a group of about 40 men heavily armed with guns, bush knives and even a sword attacked a meeting of the Kennedy Road Development Committee (KRDC) in the Kennedy Road community hall. There was no warning and the attack was a complete surprise. The Abahlali baseMjondolo Youth League was holding an all night camp for the Youth League nearby. The camp was not attacked but the people at the camp were intimidated and threatened. An international film crew at the camp witnessed the attack.

The men who attacked were shouting: ‘The AmaMpondo are taking over Kennedy. Kennedy is for the AmaZulu.” The KRDC and other community members who rushed to their aid were unarmed but tried to defend themselves as best they could. Some people were killed. We can’t yet say exactly how many.

The attackers broke everything that they could including the windows in the hall. It was later discovered that they had destroyed 15 houses belonging to people on or connected to the KRDC before launching their attack. They were knocking on each door shouting ‘All the amaZulu must come out’ and then destroying the shacks. Some are saying that three people are dead. Some are saying that five people are dead. Many people are also very seriously injured. As far as we know two of the attackers were killed when people managed to take their bush knives off them. This was self defense.

The Sydenham police were called but they did not come. They said that they had no vans available but they didn’t radio their vans to come. This has led some people to conclude that this was a carefully planned attack on the movement and that the police knew in advance that it had been planned and stayed away on purpose. Why else would the police refuse to come when they are being called while people are being openly murdered? When the attack happened one officer from Crime Intelligence was there in plain clothes.

This morning the police arrived under the authority of Glen Nayager and made eight arrests. As far as we can tell only members of the Kennedy Road Development Committee (KRDC) have been arrested and not one of the perpetrators has been arrested. If this is true it indicates clearly that the police are part of this attack on the KRDC. It also seems that the police are only taking statements from the people that attacked us! Some of the people that they have arrested were not even at Kennedy Road when we were attacked. They were in Claremont for an imfene dance amaMpondo. These arrests feel to us like the Kennedy Six scandal all over again but this time with an ethnic side to it because all the people who are arrested are amaMpondo.

We believe that this attack has been planned and organised by Gumede, from the Lacy Road settlement, who is the head of the Branch Executive Committee of the local ANC. He is a former MK soldier and is armed. There has never been political freedom in Lacy Road. Since 2005 we have been told that anyone wearing the red shirt of Abahlali baseMjondolo in Lacy Road will be killed. In 2006 Gumede personally threatened Abahlali baseMjondolo member and Lacy Road resident M’du Hlongwa with death for wearing a read shirt in the settlement. But anyone can wear any shirt of any politics that they like in our settlements. You will see ANC, COPE, IFP and SACP shirts in kennedy Road and inall Abahlali settlements. We are democrats. Our politics is a politics of open and free discussion – not violence and intimidation.

This is not the first time that our movement has been attacked. Last year both Mzonke Poni, head of AbM in the Western Cape, and S’bu Zikode, head of AbM in KwaZulu-Natal, were attacked and seriously beaten by mysterious groups of well organised and equipped young men. These attacks happened a few days apart although one was in Durban and the other in Cape Town. The men who attacked Zikode said that he was selling Kennedy to the AmaMpondo. Some time after the attacks on Mzonke and S’bu Mashumi Figland, Deputy President of Abahlali baseMjondolo who was then also the elected Chairperson of the Kennedy Road Development Committee, was also attacked and seriously beaten. Again the attack was very well organised and carried out by a mysterious group of young men who suddenly arrived out of nowhere in a bakkie. During the attack Mashumi, who is Xhosa, was told that the AmaMpondo must leave Durban and go back to the Eastern Cape.

The ethnic politics in the local ANC started with Jacob Zuma’s election campaign. Before then it was unknown in the local ANC and unknown in our settlement. People in the local ANC started to say ‘now is the time for the amaZulu’. They started to tell their (few) people in Kennedy Road that they ‘must take the settlement back from the amaMpondo’. This ethnic politics started with Zuma’s election campaign and so it his responsibility to take this politics out of the ANC and out of our settlement. We expect him to immediately condemn it and to immediately act against it.

Gumede, head of the local BEC of the ANC, has been trying by all means to undermine the KRDC and Abahlali baseMjondolo for many years. He has always failed. The membership of the movement continues to grow (we reached 10 000 paid up members at the AGM in November last year). Every year we have open elections by secret ballot in Kennedy Road and every year people vote for who they want to represent them on the KRDC. The ANC is free to nominate candidates for these elections and to test their popularity against the will of the people.

We believe that Gumede, with the support of ward councillor Yakoob Baig, has tried to build a coalition against the KRDC in order to attack it violently. Gumede has recently said publicly that he will turn the Abahlali baseMjondolo office into an ANC office. His coalition is still small but it is dangerous because it is now a militia. They have found 4 types of people that want to attack the KRDC:

1. People who want to follow an ethnic politics: The movement accepts all shack dwellers on an equal basis. We do not care where a person was born or what language they speak. This has caused those who want an ethnic politics to oppose us. We stood with the people born in other countries last year – now we are being attacked in the same way that they were attacked.

2. Criminals: We have a Safety & Security committee and we have been working to get the criminals out of our settlement. In recent months we have been working very well with the local police to get criminals arrested. We have also put a time limit on the shebeens saying that they must close at 10:00 p.m. so that people can sleep properly and that there is no violence, especially violence against women, when people get too drunk. The criminals and some shebeen owners do not like what the KRDC is doing to make the settlement safe for everybody.

3. People who want Gumede’s patronage: Every time the movement wins a small victory, like getting toilets built or even just cleaned, Gumede tries to ensure that the jobs go only to his people – to ANC supporters. We are opposed to development becoming misused for party politics and we are opposed to corruption. The movement oppose this in all the settlements where we have members. The people in Kennedy Road who want to get Gumede’s jobs are also unhappy with what we are doing. We also think that now that the Abahlali baseMjondolo has won the struggle against the eviction and eradication of Kennedy Road, and for the up grade of the settlement where it is, these people want to use violence to take over the settlement so that they can get the contacts and the power to allocate houses that they think will come with the upgrade won for the community by Abahlali baseMjondolo. We suspect that Gumede has promised them these contracts and the power to allocate houses. This is how local party politics works across Durban.

4. People who are making money from electricity: Operation Khanyisa, in which we connect people to electricity, is for free. People who were charging to connect people to electricity see it as a threat to the business that they have made out of the Municipality’s denial of electricity to shack dwellers.

The next Kennedy Road AGM is coming very soon soon. Once again the people of Kennedy Road can vote by secret ballot counted by an outsider for who ever they want to represent them. The people who attacked us last night do not want democracy. If they felt that they had support in the community they could just have waited for the AGM and put up candidates. We strongly believe that they attacked us before the AGM because they know that they will not succeed at the AGM.

What Gumede, and Baig are doing is not just an attack on the KRDC. It is also an attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo. And it is also an attack on democracy in South Africa. They have now set set up a militia to destroy the KRDC and attack the movement. We have no armed wing. We have never attacked anyone. Our politics is a politics of open meetings and popular democracy. It is a politics of debating and discussing and working things out together. The politics that is being used to attack us is a politics of war. Gumede was always a shack lord in Lacy Road. He has now become a war lord too. Abahlali baseMjondolo will mobilise its members across the city, the province and the country against Gumede and anyone and everyone who supports or tolerates his warlordism. We will also mobilise our supporters internationally against Gumede and his warlordism.

We see no difference between what is being done to us and what the apartheid regime did with the Witdoeke in the shack settlements in Cape Town in the 1980s.

After what has happened many people are saying to us that they do not trust the police. They are asking for the army to be sent in as the army might be neutral. Certainly no one trusts the Sydenham police to be neutral.

As we write the attacks and threats continue. We are still under attack. A member of the Saftey & Security committee, affiliated to the KRDC, was stabbed and killed this morning. He was not there last night. He was doing the imfene dance in Claremont. After he was stabbed the attackers tried to chase the ambulance away.

Gumede and his militia are not just a threat to us and our community. They are a threat to democracy in South Africa. It is very clear that democracy is under attack.

As we are sending this statement a helicopter and many more police officers are arriving. We hope that they will be neutral and follow the law – not Gumede’s politics of war. But as far as we can tell the police that are here are just looking for statements against the KRDC – those who were ambushed in the night! The violence is continuing. Gumede’s people are saying that if Mashumi Figlan returns to Kennedy he will be killed. We do not have confidence that he and others will be protected by the police. None of the perpetrators of the attacks last night have been arrested. We are not armed. People are very scared that there will be more attacks. They are packing their bags and fleeing the settlement. Hundreds, maybe even thousands have already fled. Some of us came to this settlement in the 80s and 90s as refugees from political violence. Now we are being made refugees again for the crime of taking democracy seriously and believing that we could choose our own politics.

Things are still confused. This statement was prepared in this confusion. We couldn’t even get all the contact people together at the same time. If there are any errors or important things left out of this statement we will correct them or add them when we can talk to everyone safely and send out a more detailed statement. Right now our main task is to make sure that people are safe – including those locked in the Sydenham Police station. We will work on that first. Once everyone is safe we will have careful discussions with everyone and issue a more full and detailed statement.

— End of statement —


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