This chapter provides an account of some of the contestation around a landoccupation in Cato Manor, Durban. It shows that none of the actors aspiring toexercise control – party structures, the local state, the courts, NGOs and popularorganisations – were, in the period under study, able to exercise full control over thepeople or territory in question. It also shows that actually existing forms of contestationfrequently operated outside the limits established by liberal democratic arrangements
According to Abahlali baseMjondolo, the uprising in Cato Crest is being quelled by all means necessary: death threats, unlawful arrests and police brutality. Many unaligned shack dwellers have also fallen victim to violent suppression. Collateral damage, wrong place, wrong time, the poor man’s burden.
We headed to Cato Crest to find out more about the deaths. Our soft-spoken guide, Ndabo Mzimela does not come across as a political activist. But he became the Chairperson of the Cato Crest branch of AbM when his predecessor, Nkululeko Gwala, was assassinated on 26 June this year.
On 26 June a community meeting was held to discuss Nkhululeko the ‘troublemaker’. The meeting was attended by James Nxumalo (Mayor councilor of Durban) and Sibongiseni Dhlomo (MEC of Health).
We are supposed to be living in a democratic country, a country of justice, a country where everyone should be treated as one. Yet there is a huge inequality. That inequality is economic, it is spatial and it is political. We remain divided into rich and poor. We continue to be allocated to different kinds of places that are meant for different kinds of people with different kinds of opportunities, different kinds of lives and different kinds of rights. We continue to be divided into those that have the freedom to express themselves and those that face all kinds of intimidation and repression if we commit the crime of telling the truths about our lives.
For the poor this country is a democratic prison. We are allowed to vote for our prison warders and managers but we must always remain in the prison. We must remain in silence when our shack settlements are illegally destroyed leaving us homeless. We must remain in silence when we are forcibly removed to transit camps that are only fit for animals but not for people. We must remain in silence when we are told to return to Lusikisiki or taken to human dumping grounds far outside the cities. We must remain in silence when we are threatened, beaten, shot and killed. The politicians think that when we refuse to be silent, and when we resist repression, they can silence us by throwing some meat at us. After all these years they think that we are dogs. We are not dogs. We are people. We will continue to rebel until we are treated as human beings.