Abahlali Members who were Displaced in September 2009 Still Homeless

Monday, 12 March 2012
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement

Abahlali Members who were Displaced in September 2009 Still Homeless

Two weeks ago IFP members fought with NFP members at Hostel 17 in Umlazi Township. That political violence left one person dead and it left some people homeless. The Minister of Safety and Security intervened to mediate between the two parties that were fighting. This is very good and is something which we welcome. We also acknowledge that the new Mayor of the eThekwini Municipality took the Umlazi violence into his attention and is working on it. However this activism of the Minister and the Mayor is raising so many questions.

This is not the first incident of political violence in Durban. On the 26 September 2009 a political attack took place in Kennedy Road leaving 2 people dead and more than 100 people homeless and permanently displaced. During that incident 12 members of AbM who were staying in Kennedy Road were accused of murder. They were acquitted on that case which took 2 years. Since 2010 the AbM leadership with Kennedy displacees have had a number of engagements with the City (eThekwini) to try and find some solution to this problem of displacement. Till today nothing has been offered by eThekwini municipality to Kennedy victims who list their homes, everything that they own and had to leave the community under the threat of death. Nothing has been done to mediate a solution so that the displacees can return in safety and that everyone in Kennedy Road can be free to organise freely and safely according to their own choices.

The Mayor’s response to the problems at Hostel 17 is welcomed but it raises a lot of questions because after the political violence in Kennedy he only sided with one side. So we are wondering if in this democratic country the people that matter are only people who are party aliened. If you are not aligned to party politics does it mean that you don’t need to be protected?

Since 2009 the elected leadership of the Kennedy Road shack settlement have been left homeless, due to the attack that took place in September 2009. Since then they have been left homeless, without anyone from the government to help with anything. The Kennedy displaced have been trying to engage with the municipality for quite some time to discuss the issue of being offered some kind of a relief due to their displacement. However they have made no progress.
Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement S.A, together with the displaces, have been meeting with the Mayor however the Mayor has neglected their issues. The eThekwini municipality has not responded or even given some hope to the displaced. Therefore it was quite surprising to hear that the eThekwini Municipality have promised to assist in Umlazi while there are people who have been displaced since 2009 until to date.

On February 28 2012 at 02:17pm in the Daily News the Mayor said "I am going there to call for calm, to see the extent of the damage and to try to assist people who have been affected by violence.” If he does have the capacity as the eThekwini Mayor, we therefore ask when will the Kennedy displaced be assisted? When will political freedom and safety for all be assured in Kennedy? Is he assisting in Umlazi because the political violence there is caused by the oppositions parties and he is trying to buy their hearts into ANC. The political attack in Kennedy Road in 2009 was engineered by ANC and the mayor is not even mediating into restoring peace or assisting them in terms of housing.

Abahlali will use this month to screen the film ‘Dear Mandela’ which narrates the story of our struggle against the Slums Act. The first screening will be in Johannesburg at Wits University on the 19 March followed by a discussion. The following screening is on the 23 March 2012 at the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine also there will be discussions afterwards. Everyone is welcome to participate in in one of the screenings. The film clearly shows that Nigel’s Gumede’s response to the attack on our movement in Kennedy Road was not to condemn the violence against our movement, the destruction of the homes of our leadership that went on for months after the attack or the attempt to ban our movement from Kennedy Road on the threat of death. His response was to attack us for taking the government to court. According to Nigel Gumede this, and not the attack on our movement, was the real political crime.

For comment: Contact Mondli Mbiko: 073193 6319 or Bheki Simelane on 0785989491