Huge Police Raid on Bheki Buthelezi’s Shack

30 June 2012
AbM & UPM Press Statement

Update on Repression & Resistance in the Zakheleni Shack Settlement, Ward 88, Umlazi, Durban

At around 4:00 a.m. this morning a group of around 50 heavily armed police officers arrived at Bheki Buthelezi's shack in the Zakheleni shack settlement in Umlazi and demanded to search it. When confronted with the fact that they did not have a warrant they retired and then returned at around 4:50 with a document stating that they had a warrant to search the entire settlement. But they only searched Bheki's shack. They found nothing. During the search a helicopter with a search light hovered over the settlement. Ten activists, all of whom have become leaders in the rebellion in Ward 88, and all of whom have been warned that the police and local party leaders after after them, slipped away during the police raid and are now in hiding.

A plain clothes officer with the fifty or so uniformed officers quietly advised a group of young men to flee the settlement and return to their rural homes as things were going to get dangerous for the residents. As they left the settlement the police said that they would be back to continue their search. After the police had left shots were fired in the settlement. It is not clear who fired the shots and with what purpose but it would not be unreasonable to suspect that the shots were fired by the same armed men that supported the police attack on Tuesday.

This morning two meetings were held. The first meeting was supposed to be between community representatives and the regional ANC structure. However in the end the ANC actually sent the local BEC. The BEC tried to sweet talk the Zakheleni representatives into stopping the protests but the Zakheleni representatives insisted on their right to protest and on the significance and legitimacy of the issues that lead to the protests in the first place – water, electricity, housing and the authoritarianism of the ward councillor and local ANC structure.

The Zakheleni representatives demanded a meeting with the Mayor, all the officials that have received memoranda at various protests but have never responded as well as Nigel Gumede (to discuss the housing situation in the settlement) and Willies Mchunu (to discuss the violence from the police and local ANC supporters). This meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
The second meeting held today was a mass meeting in the Zakheleni settlement. This meeting discussed the repression and strategies to keep the pressure up.

For more information please contact:

Bheki Buthelezi, Unemployed People's Movement: 072 639 8993
Bandile Mdlalose, Abahlali baseMjondolo: 071 424 2815
China Ngubane, Right to Know Campaign: 072 651 9790