18 July 2011
Press statement of Bishop Rubin Phillip on the acquittal of the 'Kennedy 12'
FOR URGENT AND IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Victory for Abahlali baseMjondolo – Defeat of our detractors!
We celebrate the victory that the shack-dwellers' movement, Abahlali
baseMjondolo, has won in court today where ALL of the 'Kennedy 12' have finally
been acquitted of ALL charges against them.
Bishop Rubin Phillip
For three years, since the violent attacks on Kennedy Road in 2009, we have
stood side-by-side with the accused and with Abahlali while this
politically-motivated and unjust process has dragged on. We are humbled by the
perseverance of Abahlali, who have remained united, remained strong, and
remained steadfast throughout. Theirs is the moral strength of those who know
who they are, who know what they stand for, and who steadfastly know and speak
Abahlali's victory today is a victory for all who speak the truth; it is a
victory that should give courage to the poor of eThekweni, of South Africa, and
the world who organise and mobilise together, and who speak and act for
themselves. That is never an easy path and it seems always to provoke slander
and violence from the powerful and the rich, and from those who would rather
speak FOR the poor than listen. But it is the path of truth and justice, and we
would all do well to listen respectfully and offer our solidarity to their
In granting the application to acquit the accused, the Magistrate noted that
the testimonies and 'evidence' brought to sustain the charges was not just
'unsatisfactory' and 'contradictory' – but suspicious too. Indeed, during the
coming months we must face the uncomfortable questions this case has raised. In
particular, we must face questions concerning the role of political parties in
condoning – perhaps even actively and covertly engineering – the violent
suppression of independent movements of the poor; questions about the
complicity of middle-class professional 'activists', academics, and
'researchers' who have systematically amplified the lies of the state against
Abahlali, added their own lies, and launched slanderous attacks against the
movement and it's supporters, myself included.
But today, we celebrate and give thanks that justice has been done.
Bishop Rubin Phillip,
Diocese of Natal of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.
18 July 2011.