The Mpanza and Shange Trial Continues in eShowe

Rural Network Press Statement
Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Mpanza and Shange Trial Continues in eShowe

The Mpanza and the Shange trial will return to court for the 20th time on Friday 17 September 2010. The Rural Network and the Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement will be there to show a living solidarity.

On 17 June 2006 Thembinkosi Mpanza was 17 and Vukani Shange was 16 years old when they were shot to death by the farm watchers in Horse Shoe Farm near eShowe. The accused are Jabulani Sithole and Phumlani Thusi. Mpanza and Shange were allegedly killed for stealing two sticks of sugar cane for human consumption.

The two teenagers were killed coming from Sibekezelo High school in eMasangweni near Nkwalini a day after the National Youth Day in South Africa which is usually commemorated by the youth for those who were killed in brutal murder in Soweto on 16 June 1976. As they walking home from school, they decided to eat some sugar cane. The boys were still in the spirit of Youth Day and happily singing the National Anthem. They were not knowing that they would soon join those who were killed in Soweto in 1976. These Farm Watchers emerged from the bush and mercilessly gunned down the two boys in cold blood for the so called crime of eating the fruits of this land.

Since 2006 justice has been delayed and denied. The trial only started on 20th of June 2010. The Rural Network in KwaZulu-Natal has written letters to the Minister of Justice raising concerns over these procedural issues on the matter.

The killing of people in the rural communities around KwaZulu Natal has been going on for too long now. One death is a death too many. As a matter of fact Mr Mpanza, the uncle of Thembinkosi Mpanza, has also been shot to death while walking passed the farm of Mr Channel. He was shot to death in front of his two kids aged 16 and 11 years.

This raises question about whose life is important or less important in this country. We have noted with great despair that when a poor person on a farm is shot by a farmer and their farm watch no one cares. Neither government nor media take it seriously but if it is the farmer that is killed the whole world is shaking.

We’ve always warned that we are the people that do not count in our society. We don’t count to our government; we don’t count to our business sectors and we don’t count to the rich and to our middle class communities. We will only count when the poor define ourselves for ourselves and are able to force our participation into every matter that decides the future of the poor. But when we realise and acknowledge the strength of the poor we become the huge threat to those who claim to own power. Just as the land and wealth of this society must be shared so to power must be shared. Everyone in this society must be made to count equally.

Today we have mobilised and organised our poor communities around our common goal which is to recognise that our strength is in our numbers and to build our unity. This unity is the same unity that shall be used to destroy the power of the rich and the power of those who put business interests before human dignity.

We call upon every progressive organisation and individual to come and support our call that the trial of alleged killers of Thembinkosi Mpanza and Vukani Shange is fair and just.

The trial will take place at the eShowe regional court at 09:00am. The presiding officer is Mr Xolo, the prosecutor is Mr Magubane, the defence counsel is Mr Masuku and Mr Khumalo.

For more information or comment please contact:

Rev. Mavuso
Rural Network Spokesperson
072 279 2634

Mr M’du Sibisi
eMasangweni Rural Network Branch Chairperson
073 387 9265

Mr Mnikelo Ndabankulu
Abahlali baseMjondolo Spokesperson
079 745 0653

Ms Bandile Mdlalose
Abahlali baseMjondolo General Secretary
031 304 6420
074 730 8120