19 January 2010
Statement by the Kennedy Road Development Committee (K.R.D.C)
What is happening in Kennedy Road after the Attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo?
After the 26th September 2009 attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo in Kennedy Road by the shebeen owners and the ANC the life of the people has changed into misery. Everything is out of their control and some people are even abandoning the area due to a high level of crime activities making it unsafe. These activities are being started in the shebeens which are operating right through the night again.
The operation of evicting relatives, friends and very active supporters of the so called ‘forum’ and the K.R.D.C. is still continuing. They are under the severe intimidation and their shacks are being demolished mostly every weekend during the night. Our movement is banned from the settlement. But people are also fleeing from the shacks for the safety reason as substantial criminal behaviour is happening during the night.
What is very surprising for this saga is that there is now a group of people calling themselves the new Kennedy Road Committee of the ANC. This committee was selected by the Ward Councillor, Yakoob Baig, and the chairperson of the ANC in the ward, Jackson Gumede, together with the Provincial Minister of Safety & Security, Mr. Willies Mchunu. Mr. Mchunu is also a prominent member of the ANC in the province but nothing has been done to get this situation into order.
What we have perceived is that their intervention was not intended to get the solution in this matter. They were one sided. Even today nobody speaks about a peaceful solution where everybody can be accommodated. Nobody speaks about the fact our homes have all been destroyed or that we have been driven from our community. Soon after the attack Mr. Mchunu declared a commission of inquiry to investigate and interrogate with the intention to find out what was the source of the violence which left two people killed and numerous people injured. The only result that we can see from that inquiry is that five members of the Kennedy 12 continue to be unlawfully detained without a bail hearing or a trial. None of the people who attacked us, threatened to kill us and destroyed our homes has been arrested.
On the 25th of December 2009 there was another violence that occurred in one of the shebeens. Two people died on the scene and 3 were injured seriously. The late news said that even those 3 were later died in the hospital. This was not a political violence. Mr. Mchunu told the world that we were ‘criminal’s’ and Mr. Baig said that ‘harmony’ had been returned to the settlement after we were evicted. But now they say nothing about these deaths. These deaths show the wisdom of the closing hours that had been put on the shebeens.
The community mandated us to put a closing time on shebeens because the shebeens were running all night and that was making the community unsafe. We negotiated that closing time with everyone, including the shebeen owners and the police, and discussed it in mass meetings. Every community has a right to make sure that it is safe and to make its own decisions about how to organise itself. But for this we were presented as criminals by the politicians! Now they say nothing as people are killed in the shebeens.
There is also a lot of rumour since Abahlali baseMjondolo has been displaced from Kennedy Road – even in the court of law. During the last appearance of the detainees the prosecutor could not appear in court to attend the case and so it was delayed once again - for the 7th time. What was very surprising was that sooner after the magistrate remanded the case the prosecutor was found sitting outside the court. When our advocate asked him about his absence from the court he said that he wasn’t aware that the case was on that day.
What we observed to the whole situation is that there is a lot of political conspiracy against Abahlali baseMjondolo in order to discredit what the movement has done for shack dwellers in this country. This movement has given poor people a voice at every level of society from our communities, to the media and even the constitutional court. Those whose power and money depends on the silence of the poor will never forgive us for this. But most poor people know the truth about our movement and about this country and so we are confident that our movement shall prosper.
As the K.R.D.C. we are still regarding ourselves as the legitimate representatives of the settlement because we were democratically elected by the people of Kennedy Road. We were removed by violence and force – we were not removed democratically. We are still determined to continue to work together with the Project Preparation Trust and the Municipality to move forward with the victory won by Abahlali baseMjondolo for Kennedy Road which was the agreement to upgrade the settlement where it is in a participatory and democratic way.
Written by the K.R.D.C. For more information or comment please contact Mzwake Mdlalose on 072 132 8458