Shack dwellers may not march
February 21, 2006
By Carvin Goldstone
The civic group, Abahlali base Mjondolo – representing shack dwellers in Durban – has been denied permission to march to the City Hall for the second time.
The group, which represents 14 informal settlements in Durban, had applied to march yesterday to hand over a memorandum to Housing and Local Government MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, demanding clarity over housing and land promises.
In November last year, the group’s application to march in protest against slow service provision was denied by City Manager Michael Sutcliffe.
Abahlali base Mjondolo Chair S’bu Zikode said it had sent a letter to the Metro Police Special Events Division and to the office of Michael Sutcliffe requesting a go-ahead for the march, but had not received a response.
The Freedom of Expression Institute had intervened and sent a letter to Sutcliffe requesting that he treat the march application with urgency.
The institute’s Na’eem Jeenah, from the Anti-Censorship Programme, said in a letter to Sutcliffe that the group’s application had been well within the minimum 14-day period.
Zikode said on Friday that Abahlali had received a verbal response from a senior Metro Police official denying it permission to march.
Mabuyakhulu had also responded late to the civic group in writing, but had agreed to accept its memorandum.
After its request for a march was denied last November, the group nonetheless proceeded with the march, which ended in a bloody confrontation between the protesters and police.
Zikode said the group would not go ahead with the march this time.
He said it had handed the matter over to lawyers, who have sent Sutcliffe a letter requesting that the march be allowed to go ahead on March 27. Zikode said if the march was not allowed, the group planned to proceed nonetheless.
Sutcliffe said there had been discussions, but the matter had not been brought to his attention and as far as he understood, there was to be no march.