19 December 2017
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement
Another Cadre has Fallen in a Land Occupation
On Sunday 19 November our chairperson in the Sisonke Village land occupation in Lamontville, Sibonelo Mpeku, was kidnapped and murdered. On Sunday 17 December 2017, at around 4 p.m., two of our members, Soyiso Nkqayini and Smanga Mkhize, were shot by unknown men in the eNkanini land occupation in Cato Manor. Comrade Smanga was seriously injured and Comrade Soyiso passed away.
Comrade Soyiso was the branch Youth League organiser in eNkanini. He was a very active militant who played a key role in the early stages of the occupation. He was from the village of Thombo, near to Port St. Johns in the Eastern Cape.
We do not know who the men who attacked our Comrades are, or who sent them. We will make our own investigations and we will bring the full power of our movement to push for a credible investigation by the police. However Cato Manor police have continually refused to open charges against the Land Invasions Unit after illegal and violent attacks against occupiers. It has been made clear that the occupiers are being treated as if they are beneath the law and the Land Invasions Unit are being treated as if they have impunity. We are also fully aware that there has been huge hostility to the occupation from both the so called ‘rate payers’ and the ANC in the area.
Land occupations are regularly repressed with violence, including murder. The nearby Marikana land occupation in Cato Crest cost three lives. Thembinkosi Qumbelo and Nkululeko Gwala were both assassinated by the izinkabi in 2013. Nqobile Nzuza was murdered by the police in the same year. Many people have also been seriously injured in the eNkanini occupation, including Mlungisi Mokena who was shot in the legs by the Anti-Land Invasion Unit earlier this year.
There have been a number of public threats against activists in this occupation from local ANC leaders. The party leaders in the local ward have made it clear that the people in the occupation will not live in peace since, they say, the land “belongs to their children”. There have also been various threats from the middle class residents in the area. It is a matter of record that one of these residents has fired shots into the occupation.
The movement has on a number of occasions tried to engage with the leadership of the municipality to try and curb this situation. We have also engaged with the Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer as a representative of the middle class residents.
Due to relentless violent and illegal evictions our movement obtained a court order which prevented the municipality from burning, destroying and evicting people illegally from the area. We know very well that after failing in court the ANC will try other means, including killing our members. We know what they are capable of. This occupation has angered a lot of people in the ANC, including at provincial level.
The politicians talk endlessly about the land question. Our crime is that we occupy and hold land. Our crime is that we act to realise access to land and the right to the city for the impoverished and the oppressed. This is why we are being killed.
Along with violent and illegal evictions, torture and random violence, murder is a way to terrorise those who are in the occupations so that they do not continue. Murder is used to teach us to obey our oppressors.
It seems highly likely that this shooting was political. At the time of the shooting one of the members of the local ANC was overhead by a resident of the occupation saying “Angeke nikuthole ukuphumula” (you will never live in peace) referring to the occupation in Cato Manor. Our members are attacked because they have defied those who tried and failed to crush this occupation. We are well aware that there were meetings that were held at closed doors discussing on how to deal with those in this occupation. At the time when the situation was tense the ANC were very sure that the occupation will not be a success. Now that it has become a success our members are attacked.
Our movement has held the Mayor and City Manager personally responsible for defying the order of court. The matter will be heard in court on 24 January.
Today, our people do not feel safe as they are not aware who their enemy is. We don’t yet know exactly who sent the men that attacked our comrades. This occupation has once again become a war zone.
We will continue to occupy and hold land.
Thapelo Mohapi 062 892 5323
T.J Ngongoma 084 613 9772
Mqapheli Bonono 073 067 3274
Mlungisi Mokoena 065 238 2625