13 April 2017
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement
Two ANC Ward Councillors Have Launched a Local Militia in Durban
In our previous statement we reported that our members are facing serious intimidation and harassment from ANC councillors, and their committees, in a number of wards in Durban. This included the shooting of the husband of one of our members in Bhambayi, in Ward 52, on the 26th of March 2017.
On Saturday the 08th April 2017 two ANC Ward Councillors from Wards 52 and 57 officially launched an armed vigilante group known as ‘Qina Mhlali’, a well known slogan from our movement. Witnesses say that the group was mainly made up of men armed with all sorts of weapons. These weapons included spears, bush knives, pangas and guns.
According to the two councillors this group will ‘fight against crime’ in their respective wards. This is a matter of serious concern to us. We all know that people who have organised outside of the ANC have been presented as ‘criminals’ in the past. This happened in 2009 when senior ANC leaders called our movement ‘criminal’ before, during and after our members were attacked by an armed informal militia in the Kennedy Road settlement. That militia identified itself as ANC and it also identified itself as Zulu. We are also highly aware that when xenophobic attacks have been organised the attackers, who have often had support from politicians, have said that they are attacking ‘criminals’.
There was no democratic process in these two wards leading to the formation of this armed vigilante group. It was simply announced by the two councillors. They have effectively set up an armed militia. This takes us back to the xenophobic violence that has been organised to divide our communities since 2008 and the attack on our movement in Kennedy Road in 2009. It also takes us back to the 1980s and the way in which so-called ‘black on black’ violence was used to attack the progressive movement.
The station commissioner of the area told the Abahlali Local Council in the area that as the police they do not recognise this structure. He said that it is against the law for the community to take law in their own hands. He was very clear that it is against the law for anybody, including councillors, to organise armed groups.
We do not believe that the purpose of this militia is to fight crime. It is clear to us that the purpose of this militia will be to use violence and intimidation to repress free political activity in these wards. We call upon all democrats to join us in opposing this militia and to take a clear stand for the rights of of all people, including impoverished black people, to organise freely and to live without fear and intimidation.
Blessing Nyoni (Local Chairperson) – 084 6953 205
Thapelo Mohapi – 062 8925 323
George Bonono – 073 0673 274