Business Day: Academics condemn attack on settlement

Academics condemn attack on settlement


Published: 2009/09/29 10:55:33 AM

PROMINENT lawyers and academics have blamed “powerful local property and
political interests” for violence in the Kennedy Road informal
settlement in Durban, which left two people dead on Saturday.

Two people were killed and several were injured on Saturday when about
40 men carrying assegais, knobkerries, spears and guns attacked the
settlement during a youth camp held by the Abahlali baseMjondolo
movement, a shack-dwellers’ organisation. Eight people were arrested
over the incident.

The academics include senior counsel and former United Nations
rapporteur on Palestine John Dugard, the University of Stellenbosch’s
Sandy Liebenberg, Rhodes University’s Peter Vale and Martin Legassick as
well as Jonathan Klaaren of the University of the Witwatersrand. They
also demanded that those Abahlali baseMjondolo members who lost their
homes in the attacks be compensated.

A joint statement read: “It seems, regrettably, that Abahlali
baseMjondolo’s peaceful efforts to organise and mobilise communities for
change and to resist the forced removals from the Kennedy Road
settlement threaten powerful local property and political interests.
Because of this, it seems, they have been met with violent repression
reminiscent of apartheid.

“We are particularly shocked by the allegations of police complicity in
these attacks.”

The Abahlali baseMjondolo movement has accused the police of knowing
about the attack in advance, and doing nothing about it — a charge the
police denied.

KwaZulu-Natal safety MEC Willies Mchunu said yesterday a task team would
be established to “hunt down” those responsible. Mchunu, other
government officials and community leaders resolved to take immediate
action during a visit to the area.

They resolved to place the settlement under 24-hour policing. “We
condemn the killing of our people. It is absurd for anyone to impose an
illegal curfew on residents,” Mchunu said. With Sapa