Monday, 18 July 2011
Press Statement by the Unemployed People’s Movement
Halala Abahlali baseMjondolo! A Victory for One is a Victory for All!
Rev. Mavuso celebrates outside the court
In September 2009 Abahlali baseMjondolo was violently attacked by the local ANC in the Kennedy Road squatter camp in Durban. The attackers were armed and shouted ANC and ethnic slogans. To their eternal and permanent disgrace the provincial ANC heralded this attack as the ‘liberation’ of the area. For months after the attack the homes of Abahlali baseMjondolo leaders were openly and publicly destroyed with impunity by the local ANC.
The attackers have never been brought to book for the original attack or for the reign of terror that they instituted in the area after the attack. The police refused to investigate charges brought against the ANC members that openly destroyed more than forty homes of Abahlali baseMjondolo leaders in the months after the attack.
Instead twelve young men who had performed an iMfene dance at an Abahlali baseMjondolo Heritage Day event were arrested and charged with all kinds of crimes including murder. They were jailed for eight months before they got bail even though there was no evidence against any of them. One of the magistrates openly described the case as political and another was openly advised by ANC leaders in the court.
Almost three years later those twelve young men have been acquitted of all charges. There was huge political pressure to secure a conviction in this case but despite setting up a special task team to oversee the case the state could not bring any credible evidence against any of the accused on any charge. Some of the prosecution’s own witnesses admitted under cross examination that the police were trying to frame the accused. One witness openly admitted that she had been lying. The only two credible witnesses brought by the prosecution testified that the Abahlali baseMjondolo account of the events of September 2009 was correct.
Abahlali baseMjondolo did not have to mount any defence at all in the court because there was simply no case for any of the accused to answer. This was a complete and decisive victory. The movement has been vindicated and the nefarious role of the ANC and the police exposed.
At this time our thoughts are with the twelve and their families. They have suffered terribly over the last years. We wish them well in their civil case against the Minister of Police.
Abahlali baseMjondolo is not the first social movement to have been subject to state repression and it will not be the last. But this attack, and the complicity with it by the police and senior ANC leaders in the province, is certainly the worst incidence of repression against a social movement so far in post-apartheid South Africa. It is essential that we all learn the lessons from this attack and that all the movements and progressive forces find ways to support each other in this climate of increasing repression.
As the Unemployed People’s Movement we send our warmest greetings to all the comrades in Durban. We salute the courageous role played by Bishop Rubin Phillip in standing by a movement under attack and the role of the churches that assisted the movement with legal costs during this trial. We salute those witnesses for the prosecution that had the courage to tell the truth in the court.
This is a great day for democracy and a great day for the struggle of the working class and the poor in South Africa.
Ayanda Kota 078 625 6462
Xola Mali 072 299 5253