Category Archives: maureen mnisi

ZACF: Electricity Crisis in Protea South

http://www.anarkismo.net/article/17772

http://www.zabalaza.net/pdfs/sapams/zab11.pdf

Electricity Crisis in Protea South

by Lekhetho Mtetwa

It was on Sunday morning, the 28th of April 2010 when people
from the bond houses took out illegal connections in Protea South.
They were returning from a funeral when they made these disconnections
by removing electricity wires.

The person who brought them to my yard, framing me as the
one in charge of illegal connections, is a taxi owner named Nkosi.
He kept on saying illegal connection meetings are held in my yard,
as he often saw people gathered outside my yard connecting. The
question is: do I have the powers to stop all people living in the
informal settlement from connecting electricity? No! I don’t have
any power to stop them. Only Eskom could maybe do that with
the help of the state.

I was also threatened that if the main electricity box is burnt,
they’ll also burn my shack. On that night people wanted to burn
the main box and I contacted the Landless Peoples’ Movement
(LPM) comrades to check what was happening outside our shacks.
There we found angry community members planning to wake the
rest of the people of the informal settlement to go and burn the
box. We tried our best to stop them from burning the box and they
all listened, although they were not satisfied.

Days went by and people living in the informal settlement kept
on connecting electricity as they all wanted to watch the World
Cup. Everything seemed normal until they came to attack us in
our yards. That was on the 23rd of May 2010 between eight to nine
o’clock at night. Three of them had guns, one a panga (machete)
and the other a hoe. They jumped the fence and knocked at my
door, and one of them said “Vula! Sifuna indonda” (Open! We want
the man) without announcing who they were, as is customary. It
was after we had finished eating dinner and preparing to sleep. I
had to hide inside the wardrobe to save my life as we didn’t know
who they were and what their plan was if they found me.

My partner, Nthabiseng, had to open after I took cover. Surprisingly
these were faces she didn’t know at all. They then
started to beat my partner and also search for me. By this time,
luckily, my kids were asleep. They beat her and told her that
they would be back for me. I wanted to avail myself to them and
at the same time didn’t want to disappoint my partner
as she didn’t want me to be killed. One of the guys even
stole the phone that belonged to me that was on top of
the television.

As they couldn’t find me, they left after beating my partner.
On the street they met two guys and also beat them.
This was a horrible day for shack dwellers as they had
been targeted. We were fortunate enough because one of
my neighbours came outside as my partner was screaming.
He tried to ask those guys what are they doing but
got no answer. He then asked us to sleep at his place for
us to be safe as the attackers were all over the place.

They then leant us their phone to let our comrades (of the
Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front – ZACF) know about
the attack. That’s when Jonathan (of the ZACF) called to
find out about the attack. He then let other comrades
know about everything taking place in Protea South.
After some members of the community were attacked,
there were gunshots outside and one of the shack
dwellers was shot dead with others wounded. People were
screaming for help – which they couldn’t find because police
only arrived after comrade Maureen (of the LPM) was
attacked as well. That was around twelve to one o’clock
the same night. Shack dwellers then got angry and
started to wake others living in shacks to go and burn the
main box that supplies electricity to the bond houses. As the shack
dwellers were on their way to the box, the police tried to prevent
them from doing so but they didn’t want to listen and, instead,
they destroyed the box in front of them.

The following day it was tense to the extent that most of the
people living in bond houses had to lock themselves in their yards.
There were arrests, although the state proved to shack dwellers
that people who have money do not stay in prison for a long time.
They were arrested on Monday, but on Tuesday were released,
which made people from the shacks feel unprotected. Oh, yes,
money speaks all languages.

Attacks and threats kept on taking place, but the police were
now arresting innocent people, just because they are from shacks.
Five people from shacks were accused of all the damages that had
happened. All were from LPM. They were released after few days,
except one, who was left behind. He is still in jail today. He was
accused of being the one who caused all the chaos. He was found
dancing on top of the main burnt box. As we speak there are comrades
who are still in hiding, as they are the most wanted people
by the bond house community. Some left their shacks because
they are being framed as the instigators of the illegal connections.

According to them (bond house community) they believe that
if they can get rid of LPM comrades, their mission will be complete.
There are comrades, including Maureen Mnisi and myself
whom Nkosi and his people want to get rid of. We all need electricity.
Although we live in shacks, we are still human beings.
Even today it’s dark in the area, and now the people living in
bond houses went to Eskom to find out when they will fix the main
box. The response they got was that they must wait for the completion
of a project of installing of electricity for 82 shack dwellers,
which is something that will take a long time. Eskom’s concern is
that it has lost a lot of money in the Protea South area, since this
is the 5th transformer that has been installed.

On the 10th of June, the bond house community marched to
Eskom offices to ask it to install the box because they are paying
for electricity, and that they won’t wait for whatever project it is
busy with. All they want is to watch the World cup. At their March
shack dwellers were not invited, as this might be a sign that shows
us that war is not yet over. One of them who fed me with this information,
when I ask her if they’ve invited shack dwellers said
they didn’t know who to contact. The question is, when they attack,
they know who to attack. It’s surprising, very surprising. Life
is now difficult for both residents of the bond houses and shack
dwellers, as people are now in fear.

At last Eskom heard them; they will be able to see the World
Cup. What about shack dwellers? They also connected… izinyoka
(illegal connections). Oh here starts another problem. Will the
bond house people remove wires again, or maybe they’ll wait until
the World Cup is over? This is a big question that runs in everyone’s
mind.

Things seem fine now but for how long? Is it until Eskom finishes
its project? We’ll see as we no longer have trust and are also not
feeling safe. Anything can happen at any time. Maybe it will be
worse this time.

Protea South is an undeveloped area which is abandoned by the
government, whereby there is no electricity, no street lights, no
water taps, no toilets and no proper roads for shack dwellers. It is
only serviced by “easy loos”, which are being shared by more than
ten families. But we are not alone. Those living in the bond houses
are also the victims of the capitalist system. All of us are facing
issues of poor service delivery, exploitation, oppression and
poverty. Fighting each other will not solve these problems. All we
are doing is squabbling for the breadcrumbs that fall off the table
where the bosses and rulers are having a feast!

For how long should we live this kind of life, the life of allowing
the bosses and rulers to play with our minds, to use and undermine
us like this? This must be the question that rings in each and
every one’s mind.

For more information contact me at the following email
address: lekhetho [dot] mtetwa [at] gmail [dot] com

World Cup pushes out South Africa’s poor

http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/06/03/am-world-cup-pushes-out-south-africas-poor/

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Listen to the show
World Cup pushes out South Africa’s poor

by Gretchen Wilson

In Protea South, an informal settlement near Johannesburg, Maureen Mnisi walks through the mud of her neighborhood to show how locals get electricity. She points to a slack wire dangling over a tree and leading into a shack. “It’s a illegal connection. And its not safe,” she says.

Mnisi lived here since 1988, when apartheid was in full swing. The long-awaited shift to democracy has brought her few concrete benefits. “We’ve been left out. We don’t have water, we don’t have toilets, you know, and all these things.”

Mnisi lives just a few miles from Soccer City, a brand-new stadium built for the World Cup. Last year, the city of Johannesburg wanted the 6,000 households here to move to another slum with better services, but a lot further from the city. “We were facing forced relocation, up until we take our matter to court,” Mnisi says.

Locals won the case, but Mnisi and human rights activists say cities here are pushing out the poor, including settlement dwellers and street vendors, before the tourists arrive. They say city clean-up campaigns put public image before the rights of citizens.

City officials say they’re just following tight regulations always required by Fifa, the powerful international group that runs the World Cup. Those regulations affect informal traders like people who run food stalls or sell goods on the street. They won’t be allowed to trade during June and July, because Fifa requires that cities limit such businesses to protect their sponsors, who spend millions to get those rights.

At a meeting in Johannesburg, street vendors are meeting to challenge city bylaws that limit public space during the World Cup. Nkosinathi Jikeka with StreetNet International, a global network of informal traders, says “everybody’s told that this is our World Cup and that all of us are going to benefit. But an ordinary person on the street, the layman, the poor South African, he’s not going to benefit.”

Jikeka says that unless they get access to the huge market of World Cup tourists, only big business will come away the winners.

The Attack on the LPM Continues – 5 More Arrests in Protea South

Friday, 04 June 2010
Landless People’s Movement Press Statement

The Attack on the Landless People’s Movement Continues
Five More People have Been Arrested in Protea South

Last night the police went from door to door with an informer in the shacks of Protea South, Soweto. They arrested five members of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM). Three of the people that they arrested are children of Maureen Mnisi, chairperson of the LPM in Gauteng. The other two are her neighbours.

Since the current wave of repression began when the LPM was attacked in Protea South by the Homeowners’ Association on 23 May 2010 two people have been killed. One was shot dead by the Homeowners’ Association in Protea South and one was shot dead by the police in eTwatwa. Other people have been beaten, shot, arrested and threatened with having their homes burnt down. Two people have had their homes burnt down in eTwatwa. There are now seven LPM members in jail in Protea South and thee LPM members in jail in eTwatwa.

The police have promised that they will make more arrests soon. They said that the five people arrested last night will be charged with burning the electricity transformer in Protea South. The transformer was burnt down on 23 May. On that night the wealthier residents of Protea South living in private bonded houses armed themselves and went around beating shack dwellers who had connected themselves to electricity and forcibly disconnecting them from electricity. They shot two people and one person died. They also tried to burn down Maureen Mnisi’s house. Her house was saved when LPM members defended it by erecting a burning barricade and throwing stones at the mob from the Homeowners’ Association. Some members of the community burnt down the electricity box to show the wealthier residents of Protea South that if they want to deny electricity to the poor then it will be denied to everyone. This is tactic of disconnecting the rich if they disconnect the poor (or ask the state to do it) has been used in Siyanda, Pemary Ridge and Motala Heights in Durban.

But the people that were arrested last night did not burn down the transformer in Protea South. They were busy defending Maureen Mnisi’s home that night. They did burn tyres there but to keep warm as they protected Maureen’s home. These arrests are clearly a strategy to make Maureen feel very strong pain so that her commitment to the struggle can be undermined. It is the most dirty tactic to punish a militant by arresting her children and her neighbours.

No one has been arrested for the attacks on LPM in Protea South. In eTwatwa the police stood by as the shacks of two LPM leaders were burnt down. Later they arrested one person but then they quickly released that person again. The police officer who shot dead the LPM militant in eTwatwa has not been arrested.

Liza Cossa, the chairperson of the LPM in Protea South, was told by the police that they are targeting Maureen Mnisi. She is now expecting that anything can happen. There is a long history of pressure on Maureen. In early 2009 the Homeowners’ Association signed a petition against her saying that she must be removed from the area because she was defending people from outside the country. Of course it is true that the LPM defends all people from evictions – South Africa belongs to all who live in it and we make no apology for this. The LPM are well aware that the local ANC councillor, Mapule Khumalo, is behind this. She has put Maureen under pressure to stop shack dwellers from appropriating electricity but Maureen has refused. Khumalo was twice seen with the people from the Homeowners’ Association after they tried to burn down Maureen’s home.

It is the same in eTwatwa where the ANC councillor, Cllr Baleka, is behind the attacks there.

With the exception of the Daily Sun the media has ignored these attacks on the LPM. The Daily Sun did cover the electricity war in Protea South but they only interviewed the Homeowners’ Association. They didn’t even speak to the LPM. Maureen phoned them to complain and a journalist called Issac promised to get back to her but he never did. This newspaper did the same thing when they covered the attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo in the Kennedy Road settlement in Durban in September last year. This newspaper is treating shack dwellers as criminals and making propaganda for the rich and for the councillors.

As the LPM we want to send a clear message to the media that they have a duty to tell the truth about what is happening in our country. What is happening to us must not be swept under the carpet just so that the government can look good while the world is watching South Africa for the World Cup. The duty of the media to tell the truth remains while the World Cup is on. The media must come to Protea South and to eTwatwa and hear our story.

We are calling for urgent legal support. We need lawyers for the LPM members who are in jail. We need to take up cases against the Homeowners Association and the police to get justice for the two people who have been killed. We need money to pay bail.

This statement and its call for urgent solidarity with the LPM is supported by the Poor People’s Alliance which is made up of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, the Landless People’s Movement and the Rural Network. It is clear to all the organisations in the alliance that there is no democracy in South Africa. Every time that there is an election the poor are promised land, housing, water, electricity, toilets, education and jobs. After the elections we are denied these things. If we ask for the promises that have been made to us to be kept we are beaten, arrested and jailed. If we occupy land and appropriate water and electricity we are beaten, arrested and jailed. Sometimes we are tortured. Sometimes we are even killed.

We are calling on everyone who is visiting South Africa for the World Cup to visit us and to see how we have to live and to hear how we are oppressed. Visit us in the shacks, on the farms, in the transit camps and in the jails of this country.

For more information and comment please contact:

Maureen Mnisi, Chairperson of the LPM in Gauteng: 082 337 4514
David Mathontsi, Chairperson of the LPM in eTwatwa 073 914 9868.

For information and comment on the wider assault on the organised poor in South Africa please contact:

S’bu Zikode, Abahlali baseMjondolo (Durban): 083 547 0474
Mzonke Poni, Abahlali baseMjondolo (Cape Town): 073 25 62036
Rev. Mavuso, Rural Network (KwaZulu-Natal): 072 279 2634
Ashraf Cassiem, Anti-Eviction Campaign (Cape Town): 076 186 1408

(Mzonke Poni has spent the last few days with the LPM in Protea South and can give also give a first hand account of recent events there.)

Electricity crisis in Protea South

Electricity crisis in Protea South: LET US FIGHT THE GOVERNMENT, NOT EACH OTHER

Protea South is one of the informal settlements that has not yet benefited in the last 16 years of democracy. As it stands, people in Protea South are still living without services (water, electricity and toilets). Yesterday the community that lives in the bond houses decided to disconnect the electricity that the people from the informal settlement connected into their tin shacks. They went around disconnecting and beating people who connected the electricity within their shacks. As a result, two people were shot and one died on the spot while the other one was rushed to hospital. Maureen Mnisi who is the leader of the LPM (Landless People Movement) was also attacked at her home, the members of the bond houses tried to burn down her shack. The community from the informal settlement got angry and they decided to fight back. They burned down the electricity box and threw stones at the people from the bond houses.

The problem with the Protea South community as whole are services, people need electricity to survive. Whether you live in the shack or in the bond house, we all need electricity. And that is why there is an urgent need to work together to fight the enemy. Fighting each other won’t bring electricity in Protea South. The people with the electricity that we need as the community of Protea South are sitting in their government offices and they are not even seeing the need of giving services. Fighting each other won’t help. We can see that clearly – now that one member of our community has been shot to death by another member, we will be mourning at his funeral. LET US IDENTIFY THE ENEMY THAT CREATES DIVISIONS BETWEEN THE POOR COMMUNITIES. Jacob Zuma nearly cried in Orange Farm last week, so he said. Let us make the government who pretends not to know our issues, come to every poor community where people are suffering without basic services, CRY FOR US ALL. Let us make the government to leave their offices and come to address the issue of electricity in Protea South and other poor communities.

“Organise or die in poverty: The world cup benefits the rich and not the poor”

Bongani Xezwi, activist and researcher

Contact: 071 043 2221

LPM Members & Shack Dwellers Under Attack in Protea South, Soweto

URGENT ALERT: LPM MEMBERS & SHACK-DWELLERS UNDER ATTACK IN PROTEA SOUTH, SOWETO

The following is an urgent communication issued on behalf of, and in solidarity with the Landless Peoples Movement (LPM) and other shack-dwellers of Protea South, Soweto. It is based on information obtained by telephonic and face-to-face conversations held with LPM members following violent attacks against them last night. There still seems to be confusion, however, and details are sketchy. Updates on the situation will be made available as and when they are received, as will be any factual corrections.

On the evening of Sunday 23 May a group of men attempted to burn down the shack of Landless Peoples Movement chairperson Maureen Mnisi in the informal settlement of Protea South, Soweto. She was inside at the time, and was fortunate to escape with her life only because her son stumbled on the attackers and chased them away.

At about 20h00 that same evening a group of five men – three of whom were allegedly armed with guns, one with a panga (machete) and one with a pick handle – jumped the fence surrounding the shack of another LPM member and ZACF supporter. They banged on the door to his partners and his shack, demanding to see “the man of the house”. When they thought the attackers were going to break the door down, the comrade hid and his partner answered the door, hoping to be able to dissuade the attackers. They looked inside the shack with a torch, only to find the couple’s two small children sleeping on the bed, and declared “akekho” – he is not here. They then beat up the comrade who answered the door, instructing her to tell her partner that they would be back for him. Fearing for their safety and that of their children, these comrades have been forced to flee the community with almost none of their belongings.

After that the group of armed men* allegedly roamed around the informal settlement attacking people. One community member is reported as having been killed, with at least one more still in hospital. People who were hiding during the attacks claimed that they went on until 24h00, with ambulances coming and going taking people to hospital. It is not yet known how many people were effected by the attacks, nor how many have fled.

LPM members feel certain that the attacks were orchestrated by some of the people inhabiting the bond houses in the area, as there has been ongoing tension between the shack-dwellers and bond house inhabitants over illegal electricity reconnections and relocations – as some of the people in the bond houses want the informal settlement to be relocated (as government has been trying to do for years) in order to push up the prices of their properties. The LPM has been at the fore in resisting these forced relocations, as well as in organising electricity reconnections. We believe that it is for this reason that its members have come under attack.

The LPM and other shack-dwellers are meeting this afternoon at 16h00 at Peacemaker Park in Protea South to determine a response. They would appreciate the participation and support of as many representatives and activists from as many different social movements as possible.

Total solidarity to the LPM and shack-dwellers of Protea South!!
An injury to one is an injury to all!!

Issued by the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) on behalf of and in solidarity with the Protea South LPM comrades and shack-dwellers under attack.

For further information: 084 946-4240

ZACF
Postnet Suite 47
Private Bag X1
Fordsburg
2033

zacf@zabalaza.net

* It is not yet clear whether it is the same group of men responsible for all the attacks, or whether there was more than one group operating simultaneously.