Nonhlanhla Cikwayo with her 2 month old daughter Wandile

This morning a 2 month old baby, Wandile Cikwayo, was attacked by a rat that gnawed her fingers very badly. An ambulance was called but they refused to come and directed Wandile’s mother, Nonhlanhla, to the local clinic. However the security guards at the clinic were chasing people away saying that there were only two nurses on duty and that the people must come back another day.

Abahlali managed to arrange for a comrade with a car to take Nonhlanhla and her daughter to King Edward Hospital.

This is the second time that a child has been attacked by a rat in Kennedy Road. In January this year a 4 month old baby, Nkosi Cwaka was killed by a rat. On 27 April 2008 Abahlali baseMjondolo held the third annual UnFreedom Day event on the site where Nkosi Cwaka was killed by the rat. Bishop Rubin Phillip gave a famous speech calling for justice for the poor.

The problem of rats its closely linked to the problems with refuse collection. Most settlements still do not have refuse removal. Some of the Councillors, like the notorious Derek Dimba in Pinetown, openly say that shack dwellers are ‘illegal’ and will never get services until we agree to move to the human dumping grounds out of the city. As we said before a person cannot be illegal. As we said before we are struggling for land and housing in the cities and for services like electricity, water, toilets and refuse removal in the settlements while we wait for housing.

There has been refuse removal at the Kennedy Road settlement since the big Clean Up Campaign organised by the Kennedy Road Development Committee and the DSW has provided a skip for rubbish to be safely stored before collection. But access for the refuse trucks remains a problem and we need a road that goes right down inside the settlement so that all the rubbish can be picked up.

Abahlali is calling for proper refuse collection in all shack settlements now and for an end to the attempts to use service delivery to try and persuade people to accept forced removals. Rats and fires should not be the price of city life for the poor. We are calling for cities for all. Cities in which no one is illegal because they are poor or because they were born in another country.

For more information and for comment please contact Lungi Mgube on 0833305392 or Phumza Grangxa on 0732743666.