by Thami Magubane, The Mercury
Attitudes have hardened between Abahlali BaseMjondolo and eThekwini Municipality as the group has vowed to continue to protest following a violent protest last week where 14 people were injured and two arrested and a municipal vehicle was burnt.
“We will continue and we intend to intensify the protest,” said the president, Sbu Zikode.
The protest started in Dassenhoek, Matlock, Bhambayi and George Hill on Thursday and spread to the N2 and the Mangosuthu Highway.
Protesters also blockaded a number of smaller roads, including in Mayville, Cato Crest, Shallcross, and Bhambayi.
Zikode said since their march to the Durban City Hall on June 26, they had not received a response from the municipality about the issues they had raised.
They had given the city seven days to respond, which expired last week.
They are demanding the city investigate housing corruption and end “brutal evictions”.
“We said that if the city does not respond, we will engage in the protest. We have tried other ways to engage and those have been unsuccessful – it’s quite clear that this is the only language that the city understands,” said Zikode.
He said many of their members were still subjected to evictions that left many of them destitute.
“This is not even about service delivery, this is about Abahlali being treated with dignity,” he said.
He claimed that around 72 families were left homeless following recent evictions on Wiggins Road in Mayville.
“If the mayor refuses to engage with us, the protests will continue. If the mayor continues to send out armed men to wage illegal, brutal and sometimes fatal attacks on our communities with the aim of dispossessing us of the land that we have occupied, the protests will continue,” he warned.
On Friday, Mayor Zandile Gumede condemned the violence. “While we respect people’s rights to protest, there is no excuse for the destruction of property. We call upon all residents to join us in condemning the damage to infrastructure,” she said. She was still engaging with the memorandum sent by Abahlali.