Intimidation from Armed ANC Members on the East Rand

Monday, 23 July 2018
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement

Intimidation from Armed ANC Members on the East Rand

Abahlali baseMjondolo in the Good Hope Settlement in Germiston, on the East Rand, have been engaging around budgets and urban planning for a long time now. At the same time this branch has also organised the Zikode Extension Land Occupation on a nearby piece of unused land. Despite repeated illegal evictions, and the repeated confiscation and burning of building material, the occupation will soon celebrate its first three months on the land.

Promises have been regularly made, by the ruling party and various levels of government, that development is coming to Good Hope. But we do not see any allocation for us in the relevant budgets documents. 

Abahlali baseMjondolo has a vibrant and well organised branch in Good Hope. Other organisations are also present in the settlement. There is also a person, Oliver Silela, who was elected as a chairperson for the settlement two years ago. The election was disputed, as very few people were able to participate in it. There has not been another election since Silela was elected.

The latest budget documents have been given to Silela but have not been shared with the whole community. On Saturday we invited Silela to attend an Abahlali baseMjondolo meeting in the settlement. We asked him to bring the latest budget documents so that they could be examined and analysed.

Silela refused to come to the meeting saying that he was worried about security. We have never threatened him, or anyone else, and were very surprised at this response. We told him that if he was worried he could come to the meeting with the police. However Silela still refused to attend the meeting.

We invited him again for Sunday afternoon at 4:30. Again he said that he was worried about his security. We called the police, speaking to Sector Manager Mngadi, explained the situation, and asked the police to come to the meeting. However they did not arrive. Silela did not arrive either. We tried to contact him by phone without success. We then sent a delegation of four women to his house with a clear mandate to politely ask him to please attend the meeting. They were told that he was not at home.

Silela then arrived at the meeting. He was carrying a gun and was accompanied by three armed men. The three men are not residents in the community and are all from the ANC in the area. We recognised one of the three armed men as Vusi Geqeza. We told the three armed ANC men that we did not know them in the community and that there was no reason for them to be at a meeting which was about community matters. We also explained that there was no reason for armed security at a meeting that was simply a discussion about the budget and development plans. We also explained that documents relating to the development of the community should be shared with the community as a whole and not kept as the property of one person.

We were subjected to serious intimidation. At one point they threatened to shoot up in the air to force us to cancel our meeting and to disperse. This was not just intimidation. It was also very reckless and showed a dangerous contempt for the community. Every bullet that goes up also comes down. We did eventually conclude the meeting and disperse, at a time of our own choosing. They continued to roar around in their cars showing their power and trying to intimidate us.

This morning two police officers, Mkhanazi and Mokgashwa, came to the home of our secretary Nomnikelo Sigenu. Mokgashwa told her that Silela has opened a case of ‘insult’ against her and that she must report to the police station this evening between 6:00 and 6:30 pm. He also told her that Geqeza is demanding that the police give him a report on this matter today.

This afternoon a delegation of our members went to the police station to open a case against Silela, Geqeza and the other two armed me who threatened us at gunpoint on Sunday. The police refused to open a case.

This worries us because the police are not conducting themselves in a professional manner, and in terms of the rule of law, on the East Rand. They evict and demolish without a court order, they refuse to open cases against their own members for serious crimes, like assault, and they take orders from local ANC structures rather than following the rule of law and taking a neutral position with regard to all political organisations. For instance, on 20 June we built four new shacks at the Zikode Extension Occupation. On 21 June the four shacks were illegally destroyed by the police during the night. The materials were burnt. The next morning we returned to the road. The police told us to ‘voetsek!’ and they shot at us on the road, beat us and even came into our houses to shoot at us again. Police officers Tladi and Matladi were especially rude and brutal. We went to the police station to open a case against these two officers but the police just refused to open the case.

How is that we can have our homes illegally destroyed, be insulted, shot at and beaten by the police without any consequences for the police but when we ask to be able to participate in planning the future of our community we are treated as if we are criminals? How is it that we cannot open a case against an ANC member after he publicly threatened us at gunpoint but he can successfully demand that the police open a case against us and report back to him?

It is clear that the ANC, with the support of the police, is planning to repress our movement in Ekurhuleni in the same way that is has been repressed elsewhere in the country. We will continue to occupy, to resist, and to build the democratic power of impoverished people from below.

Nomnikelo Sigenu 073 680 8663
Siyambusa Mpolase 063 876 5333 & 073 116 8766