Category Archives: Ekurhuleni

Daily Maverick: Police to people of Makause: ‘March and there’ll be another Marikana’

Police to people of Makause: ‘March and there’ll be another Marikana’

by Mandy de Waal

The road to Mangaung looks like a movie production these days, and every visible move is being played out in the national media. But far away from headline news, in places like Makause on the East Rand, the daily skirmishes for power unravel unseen. Here, community leaders say they’re being threatened by an ANC-aligned police force that’s trashing their right to gather, and make their voices heard. By MANDY DE WAAL.

“The SAPS in Primrose are not responding positively to the cases that have been forwarded to them for their attention,” says ‘General’ Alfred Moyo from the Makause informal settlement, located in Primrose in Germiston on the East Rand, where people want a better life. There’s no access to formal sanitation, no electricity, and access to water is fraught. To make matters worse, says Moyo, the police don’t react to residents’ complaints, and reported cases of crime (like theft, violence and mob justice) are just ignored by the police. Moyo is a leader of the Makause Community Development Forum, which wants to march to the SAPS station in Primrose to protest against police brutality and the police’s alleged refusal to investigate residents’ cases.

“The problem in Makause is that there is an unruly mob that is well-supported by the ANC and the police, but which doesn’t have the support of the community in Makause,” says Moyo, speaking to Daily Maverick on the phone from Primrose. Moyo says that this mob’s agenda is political and that it is trying to “delegitimise” the Makause Community Development Forum, which is working with people in the informal settlement to agitate for better services, and to ensure they are aware of their Constitutional rights.

“We have applied with the police and the Metro police for permission to march to the Primrose police station, but the police there just threaten us,” says Moyo, who adds that the leaders of the community forum have been negotiating with police management at the Primrose station and the municipal Metro police to gain the go-ahead for a legal march.

“We approached the SAPS and obtained a form from the Metro police. We filled in the form, filed it with the police and notified the office we intend marching to, which is the Primrose police station. This was done on Friday 19 September, and we were told to come back and see the station manager. We went back on Wednesday 26 September where we met with the station manager, head of visible policing and two other police officers,” Moyo says.

The Makause community leader says that during the meeting he was verbally attacked and threatened by the police, who asked him why he wanted to bring the force into ill repute. “The head of visible policing, Colonel Ratsing Shuburi, asked us why we were applying to march against the police. ‘What is wrong with you that you want to challenge the code of conduct of the SAPS?’ she asked us. We told her our memorandum would list all our grievances.”

“Shuburi warned me that if we went ahead with the march there would be ‘another Marikana’. She was referring directly to the events at Marikana where the police shot and killed all those protesting miners. She said that the police were ready for us and that if we marched, Makause would be turned into another Marikana. She said that if we went ahead we would be challenging the police to make another situation like they did in Marikana,” Moyo relays.

The community leader says the police were at the ‘container’ office of the Makause Community Development Forum on Thursday 04 October to interrogate organisers about the march. “The police were here to find out what we intend doing, and they said if the march goes ahead they will arrest me and they will personally come after me. I think they were here to show us that the police are ready to shoot us.”

Makause has been an informal settlement since 1992, and the population there has spread to some 12 or 13 thousand people. There was no ‘legal’ water supply until August 2008, when the local municipality installed two taps on the outskirts of the settlement. “We won’t wait for government to help us. We got water through our own initiative. We connected to the very same pipes that are running through our settlement. There are water pipes encroaching and we knew we had a Constitutional right to water. We can fundraise and organise for ourselves to get the basic services we need.”

Moyo says few houses have electricity, and these connections are mostly illegal. For the most part, people in Makause struggle with pricey generators, primus stoves and candles. “It is a massive challenge to struggle with paraffin and candles. There are challenges when the petrol price goes up and we have to pay more because we use generators. To get a proper connection of electricity and water – we don’t demand this from the government because we as the community want to develop ourselves.”

The Makause Community Development Forum is an informal, non-politically aligned structure set up around 2007 to deal with evictions and threats of forced removals against the community. “We were attacked by the ‘Red Ants’ and the police, but we created this informal structure to represent the community. We were challenging and fighting the evictions, but our direction has now extended to champion the improvement of services in terms of the development of the entire community. Now we stand for the provisions of essential and Constitutional rights for our community,” Moyo explains.

The community leader alleges that the ANC wants to gain control of the community because the land they are living on has been earmarked for development and there are lucrative contracts up for grabs.

“This ANC mob tried to break into my shack and destroy my shack in the middle of August, but I was away in Magaliesburg. My family phoned the police and they took the entire mob, to address them, but when we tried to make a case the police just gave us challenges. For days we tried and then eventually we got a case number, but there has been no response from the police. The secretary of our organisation was also apprehended and threatened by this mob, but the police have ignored us. That same mob went to our community office and destroyed it, and the police have done nothing,” says Moyo.

“It is a political matter,” he adds. “The ANC wants to de-legitimise us and replace our leadership in the community. That is why we are under threat. In May last year during the municipal elections the same thing happened, they were trying to overthrow us.” The ward that is represented by Makause is now under DA control, although Moyo is emphatic that neither he nor his organisation supports the DA.

“We represent development in Makause and don’t align ourselves with any political structure. We want to have one community structure and we want one community campaign. That is why we want this march. We want to show that we are one, we are united. And that when we are united we can build a better community.”

Daily Maverick phoned the Primrose police station for comment but the station manager wasn’t available, Shiburu was on leave and the communications officer was away on communications training.

As the broader battle for Mangaung continues, Makause is the perfect metaphor for the skirmishes for control at a grassroots level.

Diary of Alfred Moyo from the Deposed Makause Development Forum – Part 2

SMS diary – Follow-up on Makause Development Forum’s ousting by the ANC, and its remobilisation

27 June 2011 (evening) – Today Michael and I consulted with SERI to get their legal advice on this matter. Unfortunately there’s not much that they can do and we also highlighted the negative involvement of the SAPS which might also compromise our personal safety and Makause more as threats of burning down our shacks and looting the Somalians’ shops made in police presence. So we and SERI agreed on strategic approaches of dealing with these challenges: 1) to remobilise the community through section by section mass meetings with the assistance/presence of SERI starting this coming Wednesday … (rest of sms missing and not recovered)

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Diary of Alfred Moyo from the Deposed Makause Development Forum

The Makause Informal Settlement Forum in Primrose, Ekurhuleni was overthrown today by the local ANC with the support of the SAPS. The Makause Forum is an independent structure that had been democratically elected to represent the community. Some individual members of the committee have links to the ISN but the committee as a whole remains independent. The overthrow of another community structure by an ANC mob, backed with police support, brings back painful memories for Abahlali baseMjondolo and we are in full solidarity with the Makause Forum. We call on comrades in Johannesburg to show active support to the comrades in Makause and for everyone in this country who calls themselves a democrat to insist that the poor have the full right to organise themselves autonomously from the ANC if that is their wish. This insistence remains useless for as long as it remains abstract and something spoken about in conferences. Solidarity must be concrete, a living force on the ground.

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ANC Branch Threatens Attack on the Leadership of the Makause Shack Settlement

Abahlali baseMjondolo stands in full solidarity with the democratically elected leadership of the Makause settlement as they face threats of violence from the ANC branch in Primrose. We are far away in distance but close in spirit and we will do all that we can to mobilise support for the comrades in Makause as their community politic faces the threat of repression from party politic. As our experience shows very well these threats must be taken very seriously by all democrats.

Makause Press Statement
Sunday 29 May 2011

Primrose ANC Branch Threatens Attack on the Leadership of the Makause Shack Settlement in Ekurhuleni

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M&G: ‘There is no human who can sleep in this’

Click here to see a slideshow on this eviction and its aftermath.

‘There is no human who can sleep in this’

Evicted shack dwellers from the Gabon informal settlement on the East Rand have refused to occupy the 72 corrugated iron shacks built for them by the Ekurhuleni Municipality. This after they were evicted and their shacks demolished on May 11.

According to community members, “Red Ants [security guards known for the colour of their overalls] destroyed about 350 shacks on the day”.

However, only 72 evicted community members gathered outside Constitutional Hill in July to seek legal representation, since many of the other evicted residents intimidated by the police had fled the area.

According to Reghana Tulk — the lawyer representing the evicted community members — evicted residents received unaddressed notices 24 hours prior to their evictions.

However, evicted residents that the Mail & Guardian spoke to denied receiving such notice.

Many claimed they were not home when the demolitions took place and had received no earlier warning. Many also said their belongings had either been destroyed or misplaced during the demolitions.

One resident, Moses Mahlalela, said his TV had been damaged while his generator and blankets had been stolen.

Settlement agreement

In accordance with a settlement agreement handed down on August 10 by the South Gauteng High Court, the evictions and demolitions were found to be unlawful.

As a result, the municipality was ordered to rebuild 72 shacks of the people who sought legal recourse.

According to Reghana Tulk — the lawyer representing the evicted community members — all parties involved agreed on a show house, which was represented as a sample of the 72 units to be constructed, and became the agreed standard as to what would constitute restitution as ordered by the court on August 30.

“We agreed on single metal sheets, wooden beams in the ceiling, about 16m², two windows and a door,” Tulk told the M&G.

However, on her first inspection visit on September 6, she realised that what had been agreed upon had not been complied with.

According to Tulk, all of the 72 units did not conform with the show house, and are not stable — they have not been constructed from single metal sheets but rather from second-hand, rusted cut metal, “which has been haphazardly joined together by old and rusted bolts”.

In addition, there are no stable wooden beams holding up the roof of each unit, representing a safety concern.

Evicted residents have since refused to occupy the shacks, saying they are poorly built, incomplete and dangerous to live in. Many of these people are homeless, sleeping at the homes of neighbours, friends or family members.

‘The shacks they demolished were fine’
Pointing at a shoddily reconstructed shack on October 11, Mfanzile Msibi, chairperson of the Informal Settlement Network, was obviously unimpressed.

“The shacks were supposed to be complete, but as you can see with this one, they are incomplete; there is no door, you look at the window it’s broken, and even the roofs are leaking. Even the floor, it was supposed to be cemented, unlike the condition it is right now. The condition should have been conducive to human life, not like the one that they have built and want to accommodate people.”

Community leader Dumisani Ncapayi No agreed.

“The shacks they demolished were fine. Now they have built structures fit for pigs, because there is no human who can sleep in this.”

According to the municipality, the evicted residents were residing unlawfully at the premises concerned and were evicted without a court order because the structures were half-built and did not constitute homes.

However, many evicted residents said they had been residing on the land for several years, some from as early as 1999.

According to Tulk, the municipality has also contended that the sample unit was a not a show house, despite two other municipal employees confirming with Tulk that the show house was a sample unit of the 72 units to be constructed.

However, this information was only revealed in correspondence to Tulk on September 22, almost a month after the first site inspection.

According to Tulk, evicted Gabon residents won’t take occupation of the current corrugated shacks “until such time as proper restitution is made in accordance with the court order”. Until such time, she says, the municipality is in contempt of court.