Sleeping in the rain: even snakes treat us with more respect than the City of Cape Town

Abahlali baseMarikana Press Statement
4 May 2013

Sleeping in the rain: even snakes treat us with more respect than the City of Cape Town

As the homeless residents of Marikana, we are here because we do not have anywhere else to go. We are also now jobless which means we cannot afford to pay rent to live in someone's backyard. We always vote for this government but they always treat us like dogs in our own country. The government sends the Anti-Land Invasions Unit, Law Enforcement and SAPS to demolish our houses. They did this on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and again on Friday the 3rd of May.

They've now arrested four us us for public violence even though the police were the ones that hurt us, shot us and beat us.

On the 1st of May, a public holiday which celebrates the resistance of the workers and the poor against the oppression of the rich, the City even again took the side of the rich and stole our building material. This is thousands of Rands worth of our property which we don't think we will ever see again because they don't tell us where they have taken it. Without this material, we have nowhere else to go because even if we had a little money, we can't now rent somewhere and build a shack there.

So we have nowhere else to go. Since Wednesday, we have been sleeping out in the open, in the rain. While we sleep in the bush, at least the snakes have forgiven us for moving onto their land. They don't chase us away and now treat us with respect. They have become like our brothers and sisters.

But the same cannot be said for our government which is chasing us away as if we are not their brothers and sisters. As if we are not even human. But next year, they will need us to go and vote for them. But how can we vote for anyone that takes away our dignity?

Yesterday, on Friday the 3rd, Law Enforcement came again and took away our waterproof tarps and plastic material the we were using to keep us dry from the rain. Why did they do this? We can't build a shack with that material – we were just trying to keep dry and warm because we are stuck there with nowhere else to go. But the City of Cape Town is heartless. They want us to get sick. They want to punish us for trying to do what's best for our families, for our children. All 50 of us!

But we are not going anywhere. They can take the material. They can shoot us. They can even kill us. But we will not move from this place. This piece of land is not being used and has never been used (except by criminals who go there to kill people, abuse children and rape women) so we will remain there unless we are given a piece of land that we can call our own.

We have tried to engage with the City of Cape Town, but they ignore us. We are trying to attend a meeting between the City, Law Enforcement and SAPS at the Philippi East police station on Monday the 6th of May. This meeting is about us but we have not even been invited! When we spoke to Station Commissioner Colonel Mdimbaza, he told us: "I am sick and tired of you. I don't want to see you in that meeting. If I see your faces in the meeting, I will shoot you".

So what can we do? The police shoot us, the Law Enforcement evicts us, and the rest of the City ignores us. So we will just continue to stay in Marikana until they give up or we die. This is the same story as the Marikana Massacre – a story of the rich and government oppressing the poor and it is being repeated all over the country included here in Philippi East.

Sphatise @ 0810591042
Rhadebe @ 0836842828
Nosibusiso @ 0736128044
Cindy (AbM Langa) @ 0784074907