Agent Provocateurs at Work in this Time of Crisis

Saturday, 17 July 2021
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement

Agent Provocateurs at Work in this Time of Crisis

During this week of crisis in which lives have been lost, homes burnt to the ground, places of work wrecked and infrastructure destroyed in a systematic way there has been constant circulation of fake news on social media. In many cases that fake news has been aimed at dividing communities and turning people against each other. 

In this time of fear, confusion and anger it is very important that people do not accept the truth of everything that they see on social media without first making sure that it is correct. It is very important that we do not share unverified information, especially when it may have been designed to divide people. All progressive organisations need to keep making this very clear to their members.

On Tuesday our movement issued a long statement clearly explaining our understanding of what was happening at the time, and explaining our position. That statement drew on careful listening to our leaders in the branches – we have 73 871 members in good standing in 53 active branches in Durban. We called for solidarity in action to build a just peace. The statement, which is available on our website, was widely circulated and read by tens of thousands of people. A number of our leaders discussed it further in the media. It can be seen on our website.

However, it has been drawn to our attention by Muslim comrades in Durban and Johannesburg that someone took our statement and added in a whole new section in the middle which was anti-Muslim. This faked version of our statement was then widely circulated in various Muslim Whatsapp groups causing fear and anger. A number of our members then received abusive and sometimes racist Whatsapp messages from people who had seen the faked version.

Our statement was taken, changed and then circulated by a person or people who had the intention to cause dirty racial tensions in a time of crisis. We condemn this disgusting and reckless act in the strongest terms.

In a situation of serious crisis, it is especially important that all leaders conduct themselves calmly, thoughtfully and honestly, and with the best interests of the whole community in mind. We are disappointed but not surprised that in a Whatsapp group Fawzia Peer, the former deputy mayor and former acting mayor in Durban, treated this faked statement as if it was genuine without making any effort to contact us. A number of our comrades have also drawn our attention to a dangerously inflammatory message that she sent to a WhatsApp group stating that “the informal settlement have gathered tonite planning to attack”. These messages have been confirmed as originating from her number. When Peer held high office the municipality continually repressed us and sent armed men – the Land Invasion Unit and Calvin Security – to illegally and violently destroy our homes. She never made any statement opposing these attacks on us. This irresponsible behaviour by a senior politician is very dangerous. The rot in the ANC should remain in City Hall. We should not allow it to infect our beloved communities.

If there are any comrades with the technical skills who can help us trace who changed our statement and began to circulate the faked version we would appreciate their support. If anyone has any credible information about who is responsible for this disgusting and dangerous act we would appreciate it if they would contact us and share that information.

Our movement has always had Muslim members and worked closely with Muslim comrades. We consider all forces that try to divide us on lines of nationality, ethnicity, race or religion to be our enemies. Our unity is our strength as we work to humanise the world and ensure that we no longer have poor people in a rich country.

As everybody knows when the fires began to cool many Muslim people and organisations moved quickly to provide food to the hungry. There are Muslim people who lost their businesses and yet in their own time of crisis quickly organised to be in solidarity with others. This solidarity is deeply, deeply appreciated and respected by our members.

May Allah bless all those who have opened their hearts in this time of fear and suffering.


S’bu Zikode 083 547 0474

Verushka Memdutt 083 311 6397

Mqapheli Bonono 073 067 3274

Nomsa Sizani 081 005 3686

Desmond D’Sa 083 982 6939

Thapelo Mohapi 074 774 4219