UKZN Vice-Chancellor Prof. M.W.Makgoba seeks to evict four families

January 04, 2006


During the Christmas Holidays a Notice of Motion was lodged in the High Court by Prof. Makgoba to ask the court to allow the eviction of 4 families from the Banana City Informal Settlement on the Westville Campus of UKZN. The court date is set for 6 January 2006. Makgoba obviously hoped to be able to get away with this while legal NGOs etc are shut down for Christmas. But top class legal support has been secured and Makgoba’s motion will be contested in the High Court, at 9:30 on Friday 6 January 2006.

In his 22 page affidavit Makgoba argues that the 4 families can be legally evicted because their shacks are new. However the people living there are long time residents of Banana City. Their shacks are only new because their previous shacks burnt down. They burnt down because the eThekwini Municipality no longer installs electricity to shacks. It is deeply unjust to evict people because their old shacks have burnt down.

Makgoba’s affidavit is full of the sick language of racism. He describes the shack dwellers as unhygienic, criminal, dirty and so on. This is deeply unfair. Banana City has been part of the University community for more than 15 years. Many poorer students have sought accommodation and meals in the settlement and some university workers have lived their too. But Makgoba doesn’t only use the language of racism in his attack on the most vulnerable people at UKZN. He also uses a law firm * Garlicke & Bousfield * with an appalling colonial history.

Right now it is only 4 families confronting the possibility of disaster. But it seems as if the whole settlement may be at risk. In a recent newspaper article a top UKZN manager is quoted as saying that the shack dwellers will be ‘relocated’. Makgoba says the same thing in the court papers. For some years the eThekwini Municipality has promised Banana City residents formal housing on the Westville campus of UKZN. But now it seems that the UKZN management wants to undo this promise. ‘Relocation’ means that people will be evicted at gun point and taken to the human dumping grounds on the rural periphery of the metro * places like the notorious Park Gate. There is no work and there are no schools etc there * these are places of living death.

But Banana City is not alone. The mighty shackdwellers’ movement * Abahlali baseMjondolo has promised to make a stand with Banana City. And progressive students and workers at UKZN are also standing firm with Banana City.

UKZN has been in the news a lot lately. There has been the 55 million rand cuts that are coming ion 2006 (via fee increases and cuts in expenditure), Makgoba’s intimidation of critical academics and Makgoba’s banning of Ashwin Desai. There is growing and very serious international concern at the direction in which UZKN is being taken. The Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa has written to Makgoba to express their deep concern as have world famous academics like Issa Shivja from Tanzania and Noam Chomsky from America. The world is watching UZKN now. The Banana City families facing eviction will not escape the global critical attention that is being directed at UKZN. Progressive students at UKZN feel strongly that this university is being turned into a university for the rich * a university that has no place for shack dwellers, poor students, workers seeking a living wage or critical academics.

For comment please contact:

Banana City Residents’ Development Committee: David Nene 0762575936, Bongani Zondo 0835024337

Combined Staff Association of UKZN: Prof. Evan Manzaris 0723676824

Students & Workers Shack Dwellers’ Support Committee: Liv Shange 0824074959, Sibusiso Xaba 0736143145, Fazel Khan 0845778627

Abahlali baseMjondolo: Mnikelo Ndabankulu 0735656241, S’bu Zikode 0835470474