Motala Heights – digital archive

Below is an archive of pictures and text produced from within the Motala struggle since the poor residents joined Abahlali baseMjondolo in early 2006.

Update: On Sunday 24 February 2008 the two Abahlali baseMjondolo branches in Motala Heights, one constituted by the people in the imijondolo up on the hill and the other by the people in the tin houses scattered around within the suburb, united to form one united Abahlali branch. The two structures had always worked very closely together but they have now formed a single structure.

Shamita Naidoo was elected chairperson and Bheki Ngcobo was elected as deputy chairperson. Cllr Dimba, hearing of the planned combined Abahlali AGM, organised a meeting in the church hall at the time. The poor residents boycotted Dimba's meeting and then marched on it, in their hundreds, from the imijondolo into the suburb demanding land and housing in Motala Heights.

Dimba told the protesters that the poor would have to leave Motala Heights. The protesters told Dimba that perhaps he should leave, that they would not leave their community and that they would continue to demand decent housing for all Motala Heights residents in Motala Heights

Within days of the march Shamita Naidoo came under pressure from her landlord (who is not Ricky Govender)and she is being threatened with eviction. It seems that the rich are uniting to counter the unity of the poor.

There are two irreconilable visions for Motala Heights. Dimba and Govender see a future in which they poor are expelled from the area and it is developed by Govender for his private profit. Abahlali baseMjondolo see decent public housing being built for the community in consultation with the community so that everyone who lives in Motala Heights can have a decent and secure home in the community.

Shamita is working on a report on the march that will be archived here as soon as it is ready.

Ricky Govender continues to make threats of assault, arson and murder against Abahlali activists in the area.

Press Releases from Motala Heights

*Corruption and Armed Intimidation as Motala Heights Eviction Crisis Deepens, 20 June 2006.
*Motala Heights Eviction Crisis Continues, 30 June 2006.
*Motala Heights Eviction Crisis, Press Release 4, 21 August 2006.
*Shacks Demolished at Motala Heights, Pinetown, 29 October 2006
*Major Crisis as eThekwini Municipality Violently and Illegally Evicts Shackdwellers in the Motala Heights Settlement, 5 November 2006
*Victory for the people of Motala Heights, 13 December 2006
*Gangster Landlord Assaults Woman Activist and Threatens Twenty Families with Eviction, 8 August, 2007
*Four shacks Burn Down in Motala Heights, 10 September 2007
*Motala Heights Crisis Deepens as Violent Intimidation Against the Strong Poor Continues, 13 May 2008
*Court Action Against Intimidation in Motala Heights, 12 & 13 June 2008
*AbM Youth League Chairperson's shack has just been lost to fire, 30 July 2008
*Armed De-Electrification in Motala Heights, 19 August 2008
*Six Families Under Threat of Eviction in Motala Heights, 20 April 2008
*Police Support for Landlord Intimidation Continues in Motala Heights, 30 April 2009
*Eviction of 23 Families in Motala Heights; Intimidation by Pinetown Legal Aid Board and So-Called Land Lord, 6 August 2009
*Shack Dwellers Strike at National Print, Pinetown ++ SHOTS FIRED ++ , 26 January 2010
*Motala Heights Will be a Community for All, 30 October 2010
*Ricky Govender Bulldozes the Motala Heights Shembe Temple, 16 January 2011
*Metro Police Destroy Home in Motala Heights, 22 January 2011

Pictures from Motala Heights

*Ricky Govender gets his demolitions at Motala Heights (3 years ahead of the City's schedule), 31 October, 2006
*At the High Court for the Motala Evictions Case, 22 November 2006
*Motala Heights on 12 December 2006 – the day before an eviction
*SAPS stop Municipality workers from demolishing shacks, 13 December 2006
* Photo essay on Motala Heights in December 2006 by Antonios Vradis.
*Shack cinema, Motala Heights 11 March 2007
*iPolitiki ePhilayo: Motala Heights Development Committee AGM, emZabalazweni, Motala Heights Settlement, 20 May 2007
*Motala Heights, 2 August 2007. The day after Govender promised to bulldoze Uncle Jame's house by the end of the month
*Motala Heights, Meeting Against Evictions 4 August 2007
*"Motala Heights Indian Shacks" – pictures by Shamita Naidoo, taken first week of August, 2006
* The morning after 4 tin shacks burnt in Motala Heights, 9 September 2007
*'Meeting of the Poor Against the Rich', 17 November 2007
*The Motala Diggers, 31 October, 2008
*New Evictions Threatened in Motala, 20 April 2009
*Launch of the new Crèche in Motala Heights, 26 April 2009
*26 Families to be Evicted at Motala Heights Lot 35, 6 August 2010
*Community Meeting in Motala Heights, B Section, 28 February 2010
*Ricky Govender Bulldozes the Shembe Temple in Motala Heights, 16 January 2011

Newspaper articles on Motala Heights

*Isolezwe, 30 October 2006 Bathi abayi ezindlini abakhelwe zona
*Mercury, 30 October 2006: Council vows to get rid of shack dwellers
*Mercury, 30 November 2006: Shack dwellers win court order against municipality
*Highway Mail, 17 August 2007: We Won't Go
*Mercury, 4 September 2007: Photographer was threatened, Police rescue news team after fracas
*Highway News, 11 September 2007: News team threatened for shack story
*Highway Mail, 14 September 2007: Homes in Ashes
*Mail & Guardian, 21 September 2007: 'They can pack up and go'
*Highway Mail, 24 September 2007: No assistance for Motala Heights fire victims
*Mercury, 8 October 2007: Court halts landlord's threats
*Daily News, 16 June 2008: Order won to prevent harassment: Tenants take landlord to court
*Mercury, 17 June 2008: Order granted against landlord 'harassment'
*Mercury, 21 August 2008: Land owner to take legal action to evict tenants
*Daily News, 13 November 2009: Symbol of Hope Silenced
*Highway Mail, 8 October 2010: Motala Mess Needs Fixing
*Sowetan, 18 Januray 2011: Outrage at Desecration of Temple
*Mercury & New Age, 21 January 2011: On the Casual Bulldozing of a Shembe Temple in Motala Heights

Other Media

*CNN, 11 June 2008: Slums offer surprising hope for tomorrow's urban world

Legal Documents on Motala Heights

*Affidavit on the Founding of Motala Heights by Bheki Ngcobo
*PDF copy of letter from the Legal Resources Centre to City Manager Sutcliffe, 23 November 2006
*PDF copy of court order preventing further demolitions in Motala Heights (29 November 2006), Letter from the Legal Resources Centre to the Pinetown SAPS (11 December 2006) and a letter from the LRC to the city's lawyers (12 December 2006)
*Interdict preventing Ricky Govender from bulldozing the home of Mr. and Mrs. Pillay and from threatening or assaulting them, 28 September, 2007
*Court papers for interdicts against Ricky Govender et al, the Station Commander of the Pinetown SAPS & the Minister of Safety & Security, 13 June, 2008
*Letter from CALS to Ricky Govender's lawyer on ongoing intimidation of James Pillay despite the interdict, 8 July 2008, 2008
*Letter from CALS to Ricky Govender's lawyer explaining that they have no legal basis to evict, 31 July 2008, 2008

Other Documents

*Facing Uncertainty with Unity: Lives and livelihoods of shack dwellers in Motala Farm by Lisa Fry, late 2006
*Comments by people who resisted evictions in Motala Heights in December 2006, document drawn up in early 2007
*Report on Public Participation Exercises For: “The Elimination and Prevention of Re-emergence of Slums Bill” (See section 3 for an account of the two visits of Tim Jeebodh to Motala Heights.
*Freedom of Expression Institute statement that makes reference to Govender's death threats to journalists
*Abahlali baseMjondolo & the Police A list of key incidents of police harassment between March 2005 and January 2008 (including references to incidents in Motala Heights)
*Letter to the eThekwini Municipality from groundWork on illegal dumping by Ricky Govender, January 2008
*COHRE report on housing rights in Durban (includes Motala Heights), October 2008
*Motala Heights A: Survey Findings, by Sarah Cooper-Knock, 2010

And a poem and a letter from Jacques Depelchin…

*For Motala Heights, a poem by Jacques Depelchin, April 2009
*Letter to the Motala Heights Comrades, by Jacques Depelechin, January 2011

And two short documentary films…

*Motala Farm, May 2009
*Still UnFree, June 2009

Various documents on New eMmaus

New eMmaus is just over the hill from Motala Heights and is not under the control of Govender. However the two areas share, in part, a common history as people who were evicted from land owned by the Catholic Church live in both New eMmaus and Motala Heights. (Their ancestors came to the Marianhill Monastery as converts – they were evicted when the monastery sold land off for factories to be developed).

*New eMmaus Cracks, Press Release, 3 October 2006.
*New eMmaus Cracks – photographs, 3 October 2006.
*Emmaus residents fall into housing cracks, Sunday Tribune article, 22 October 2006.
*Abahlali to Mourn UnFreedom Day 2007 & Celebrate the Strength of the Strong Poor in New eMmaus, 27 April, 2007.
*Pictures of the UnFreedom Day Celebration in New eMmaus, 27 April, 2007.

Please note: Shamita Naidoo also has in her possession a collection of important archival documents on the history of Motala Heights and there is also a rich oral history which is well known by people like Lousia Motha (who has lived her whole life there) but which has not been documented in written form.

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  1. Pingback: March on Mlaba – Final Press Release (& Updates on Police Attack & Aftermath) | Abahlali baseMjondolo

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