Abahlali baseMjondolo http://abahlali.org Umhlaba Izindlu neSithunzi Land Housing Dignity Tue, 05 Sep 2017 16:10:35 +0000 en-ZA hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.11 http://abahlali.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Abahlali_baseMjondolo_Logo-45x45.gif Abahlali baseMjondolo http://abahlali.org 32 32 GroundUp: Hundreds of shacks demolished in Khayelitsha http://abahlali.org/node/16264/ Tue, 05 Sep 2017 16:10:35 +0000 http://abahlali.org/?p=16264

Land occupiers say they will rebuild until City finds solution


Photo of a shack on open land
The City of Cape Town Anti-land Invasion Unit demolished hundreds of shacks in Khayelitsha. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks
By and

 

Land occupiers in Monwabisi Park, Khayelitsha, were left homeless after the Anti-land Invasion Unit (ALIU) demolished shacks on the weekend. Some of the occupiers said they had been living on the land for about three months prior to the demolition.  Khayelitsha residents, mostly backyarders who cannot afford the rent, have been erecting shacks on vacant land in the area for the past few weeks. (See Clashes in Khayelitsha following land occupation.)

According to a statement released by the City of Cape Town on 2 September: “A large number of structures were unlawfully erected on the site, which is situated between Swartklip, Oscar Mpetha Drive and Baden Powell Drive. 474 unoccupied structures were demolished and 43 occupied structures were identified, and eviction will be effected via the legal process.” In a statement the following day the City said it had demolished a further 189 “illegally erected structures”.

Victoria Mapompo, a 55-year-old mother of five, said she had to move from someone’s backyard because she could no longer afford the rent. When asked why her shack had not been demolished with the others, she said she told the ALIU that she had five children and she did not have another place to go. “They left me and said they will come back tomorrow to demolish my shack,” said Mapompo. Her shack, and a few others that were left standing, had the word “remove” spray-painted on them.


A shack with “remove” spray-painted on it by the City’s Anti-land Invasion Unit. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Sizeka Komani, a 34-year-old mother of two, was less fortunate. She received a phone call at work from her 15-year-old daughter on Saturday saying that their shack was minutes away from being demolished. She rushed home to remove her furniture after which the ALIU demolished it.

“I had to ask my neighbour if we could stay with them but we don’t know when they [ALIU] will demolish her shack as well,” said Komani. She said this will be the third time she has had to rebuild her shack.

GroundUp asked a group of occupiers whether they would continue rebuilding after the demolition on Monday. Banele Majavu said, “We don’t have anywhere else to go. We have no choice but to rebuild.”

The group said that the City had not made an effort to talk to the community and develop a solution. “We don’t want to fight. We just want our basic human rights,” said Majavu.

Social Justice Coalition Chairperson Wiseman Mpepo said it strongly condemned what the City is doing. “We are an organisation fighting for justice and it is sad to see that 23 years into our democracy our people are still landless and injustices like these still continue,” said Mpepo.

GroundUp contacted the City for further comment on Monday. It will be added when received.

 

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Repression and State Criminality in uMlazi and Cato Manor http://abahlali.org/node/16262/ Tue, 05 Sep 2017 16:02:28 +0000 http://abahlali.org/?p=16262 Tuesday 05 September 2017

Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA Press Statement

Repression and State Criminality in uMlazi and Cato Manor

Yesterday two members of Abahlali were attacked by unknown people in our Silver City branch in uMlazi. The two men, who are serving in the local Abahlali structure were abducted by a group of men and forced into a car with no registration number. They were then taken to the house of the local ward councillor.  They were beaten and tortured for two hours at the home of the ward councillor by the same men that had abducted them. After this they were taken to the police station by these men. 

These men claimed that they beat and tortured our members them because they were ‘stealing electricity’. Our movement supports Operation Khanyisa, safely made and maintained people’s connections to electricity. We also support people’s connections to water and, where possible the sewerage system.

We are aware that the state considers self organised connections to electricity to be in violation of the law but we are willing to engage in organised civil disobedience on this matter. But if these men suspected our members of ‘stealing’ electricity why they did not report them to the police instead of abudcting and then torturing them? The police did not do any justice for our members. They refused to open a case of kidnapping and assault. When our members rushed to the police station to put pressure so that the case is opened they were teargassed by the police.

These police have become politicised to the extent that it is clear that they are there to act as an armed force in support of the councillor and not to enforce the law. In fact they are willing to support serious criminal actions by the councillor and his thugs. This is not the first time that this councillor has been involved in criminal conduct against members of Abahlali.

Yesterday the men made it very clear that they are looking for the chairperson of our Silver City branch, Lungelo Hlongwane, who has been receiving death threats from the ward councillor.

The conduct of the councillor, his thugs and the police is criminal and fundamentally authoritarian. This particularly councillor has been reported in the Mayor’s office and he still continues to intimidate our members. This means that the Mayor is also complicit.

This kind of abuse is not only happening in Silver City. In Cato Manor the Anti-Land Invasion Unit continued with their illegal evictions today. One of the homes that they destroyed belonged to Mlungisi Mokoena, who was previously shot in the both legs by the same unit. Today they abused him, threatened him and even broke his crushes and removed his bandages.

This kind of cruelty shows the complete lack of moral value in the government. When people are afraid of the government it is a crisis. It is the government that should be afraid of the people instead. When a government disregard the Constitution, especially the one they have created we are in a crisis. When activists face murder and torture it is a crisis.

A democratic government would rule by obeying the democratic mandates of the people. This government is a criminal, violent and oppressive force.

We would like to appeal to all progressive forces to be in solidarity with our movement in these trying times. We fear that we are now returning to a situation in which we will again have to face death as happened in the 2013 – 2014 period when our leaders were killed.

Contact persons:

Thapelo Mohapi – 062 8925 323

Mqapheli Bonono – 073 067 3274

Thina Khanyile – 073 149 8128

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Tomorrow We Return to the Durban High Court as State Criminality Continues to Escalate http://abahlali.org/node/16258/ Thu, 31 Aug 2017 16:35:10 +0000 http://abahlali.org/?p=16258 Thursday, 31 August 2017
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement

Tomorrow We Return to the Durban High Court as State Criminality Continues to Escalate

On 27 July 2017 the eThekwini Municipality was interdicted against demolishing, burning, removing or otherwise destroying and disposing of housing structures or threatening to do so in seven land occupations where residents are affiliated to Abahlali baseMjondolo. Those whose homes had been destroyed were given the right to rebuild them.  

Since then there have been repeated violent evictions by the Municipality in brazen violation of the court interdict. People have suffered serious and permanent injuries at the hands of the Municipality during these evictions. Today there were particularly brutal evictions in Cato Manor and Marianridge. Both of these evictions were in violation of the interdict and were therefore, in terms of the law, illegal and criminal acts.

Tomorrow we return to the Durban High Court. The Municipality, together with the Province, will be filing replying papers and arguing that the interdict should not be made permanent. We are wondering why we are going back to court in light of the plain fact that we are confronting a state that considers impoverished black people to be beneath the law.

The state is encouraging residents living in formal houses to organise themselves against land occupations. This attempt to divide the working class and the poor, to isolate the poor and to legitimate state criminality and repression is a worrying development. We will continue to work to build the broadest possible alliances in support of the democratisation of our cities.

We continue to take the position that the social value of land must be placed before its commercial value. We continue to take the position that democratically organised land occupations must be recognised as a form of legitimate urban planning from below.

Land. Housing. Dignity.

Ndabo Mzimela 073 242 2043
Sihle Cele 060 817 0891

 

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GroundUp: “We should be able to stay in cities where we work” http://abahlali.org/node/16255/ Wed, 30 Aug 2017 09:14:54 +0000 http://abahlali.org/?p=16255

“We should be able to stay in cities where we work”

Activists from across the country meet to take housing struggle forward


Photo of meeting
Housing activists gathered at Khayelitsha’s Isivivana Centre on Tuesday night. Photo: Thembela Ntongana
By ,  GroundUp

 

“There are people who are being killed in Durban. There are people who are being ill-treated and their only crime is being poor, and that they want to stay in places that are closer to town,” said Thapelo Mohape from Abahlali baseMjondolo based in KwaZulu Natal. 

He was speaking at a meeting of about 200 people held in Khayelitsha’s Isivivana Centre on Tuesday night. Activists from across the country gathered to highlight the difficulties that land and housing activists face.

The meeting, titled Dying for a Home in the City, was organised by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education and Ndifuna Ukwazi.

“At the core of the gathering today is that we see our … brothers and sisters dying and being killed at the hands of the state for demanding what should be rightfully theirs,” explained SJC general secretary Mandisa Dyantyi. “We find ourselves in a situation where people whose ancestors were born in this country are being excluded from the benefits and the land that this country has to offer.”

Mohape said, “We know very well that the apartheid government deprived black people of the right of living next to the city. Now that we as black people want to move to the cities post apartheid our very own black government is the one that is shooting and killing us.”

Mohape lives in a shack. He said activists in Durban are being threatened by politicians on a daily basis. “They think people who stay in shacks cannot think. They decide for us,” he said. “We have a housing problem in Durban not because houses are not being built but because houses are being sold by councillors to people with money.”

Mphumeleli Mdunga from Izwelethu community in Khayelitsha, who is part of a large land occupation that started in May, spoke about the threats that they received from officials including councillors. One activist who was at the forefront of the occupation, Mthunzi ‘Ras’ Zuma was shot dead on 28 May. “Even when one of us died we decided as a community that we will not back down. We will not let anyone die in vain because we are without housing. We need places to stay.”

“The system accommodates those with money not us poor people. We report to the police [but] we are ignored,” said Mdunga.

Labogang Malakaje from the Slovo Park Community Development Forum in Johannesburg, spoke about his community’s struggle to get government to provide decent living conditions. He described how they had to protest. “In 2007 we won. They said they will give us electricity, build us housing and provide us with sanitation.”

At the time Malakaje said the state only offered to build houses for 360 people. The remainder of the community would be moved 15 km away. The community then took the national and provincial governments to court. They won the case last year, he said. “We are proud that they will now build for 3,700 people,” he said.

Siyabonga Mahlangu from the Inner City Federation, also in Johannesburg said that in the context of fighting for land the “time for theory is done. It is time for practical.”

“We need to fight for what is rightfully ours. We should be able to go and stay in cities where we work. Our government fought for their freedom not ours. We need to fight for ourselves now,” he said. “We cannot afford to be scared to die,” said Mahlangu.

For domestic worker Sheila Madikane from Sea Point on Cape Town’s Atlantic Coast, the fight was different. She had not occupied land but was being evicted from a place she had stayed in since 1987. She won her eviction case on 25 August 2017. Madikane said she have been fighting to live in Sea Point along with other domestic workers for more than 15 years. She is part of Reclaim the City. “Land for people not land for profit is what we want. We were evicted but we never moved. We are in pain. We are in need of places to stay.”

“You rent a room in Sea Point for R2,500 [but] no visitors [are] allowed. [There is] no space to even cook. We are looking after their kids year-in and year-out. We only see our families for three weeks at the end of the year but we have no places to stay where we spend most of our time,” she said.

 

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GroundUp: City of Cape Town ordered to buy land for Marikana residents http://abahlali.org/node/16260/ Wed, 30 Aug 2017 08:37:28 +0000 http://abahlali.org/?p=16260

Court ruling ensures that 60,000 people will not be evicted from their homes


Photo of woman with a bucket
The Western Cape High Court ruling ensures that some 60,000 residents of the Marikana informal settlement in Cape Town will not be evicted. Photo: Masixole Feni
By

 

The City of Cape Town has been ordered to negotiate with the owners to purchase the land on which the Marikana informal settlement is located. Judge Chantal Fortuin handed down this landmark judgment in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday, ensuring that about 60,000 people will not be evicted from their homes in Philippi East.  The City has between one and two months to negotiate with the various owners of the land and needs to report back to the court immediately after this.

Fortuin dismissed all the eviction applications against the residents of Marikana. She said that in deciding this matter she was “faced with a historical, social and economic situation which cannot be ignored”.

“The occupiers moved to these properties after being evicted from various areas where they lived under desperate conditions. Unlike other people from Cape Town, these occupiers did not, at the time, and at present, have the luxury of choosing where to settle with their families. They settled on these properties out of desperation,” she stated.

In her judgment, Fortuin also said that the City, and national and provincial ministers of housing had infringed on the landowners’ constitutional right to property. In addition, the City, and the national and provincial ministers of housing had also infringed on the occupiers’ rights to housing, by failing to provide land.

A number of people own various portions of the land that has come to be known as Marikana, but all the owners had asked for the state to purchase the land from them. Most of the Marikana residents, who were represented by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI), wanted the land to be purchased by the City, or expropriated if an agreement on purchasing couldn’t be reached. None of the owners favoured expropriation.

In her judgment, Fortuin said it was undisputed that the City could not provide alternative accommodation for the occupiers. But, she said, she agreed with the occupiers “that none of the state respondents have given an acceptable reason why, instead of moving such a large number of people, they cannot simply acquire the land the people are currently occupying”.

The court has to perform a “balancing act”, she said, in ensuring that the occupiers’ rights to housing are enforced without encroaching on the rights of the owners to property, or by overstepping the boundaries of the doctrine of separation of powers.

The judgment differed slightly for each of the owners of the land. Fortuin said that one owner, Iris Fischer, could not be treated the same way as the other owners. She had not acquired the property for commercial reasons and “is an elderly woman who is bearing the responsibility of the state by providing land” to the occupiers.

In the case of Fischer, Fortuin ordered that if the City and Fischer cannot reach an agreement on the sale of the land in a month, they must return to court. Here, they must detail their negotiations, in particular, why the value of the property was not determined on the basis of the property being vacant land “thereby disregarding the informal settlement”.

In the case of the owners of the rest of the land, if they cannot reach an agreement with the City within two months, they must report back to the court explaining whether expropriation of the properties was considered, and if not, why not.

In the case of all the owners, if the City is unable to afford to purchase the land, the national and/or provincial ministers of housing have been ordered to provide the funds to do so.

The costs of the applications are to be paid by the City and the national and provincial housing ministers.

 

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