Category Archives: Abahlali baseMjondolo Siyanda

Latest from Siyanda: 50 Families Remain in their Homes & Refuse Eviction to “Transit Camp” Under Heavy Police Presence

Latest from Siyanda: 50 Families Remain in their Homes & Refuse Eviction to “Transit Camp” Under Heavy Police Presence

In the early morning of December 11, 2008, police vans, trucks and cars – estimated six in total – pulled into Siyanda, KwaMashu, to carry out the eviction of 52 families to make way for the new MR577 Freeway. Approximately 10 police, armed with batons and pistols, reportedly went door-to-door with a representative from Linda Masinga & Associates, to each of the 66 families’ shacks. With bulldozers and transport trucks standing by, the eviction team asked each family if they would be willing to be relocated to an area “transit camp.” As had already been officially communicated to the MEC of Transport who is seeking the eviction, all but two families refused.

The two Siyanda families who accepted the terms of the relocation were then transported by truck to an area “transit camp,” where police vehicles followed. Police tape had been placed between the “camp” and the adjacent homes, where KwaMashu residents stood outside watching the relocation, some toi-toying. These residents were not consulted, either by government officials or by the MR577 construction group, that the “camp” would be installed in their community on land adjacent to their homes.


Last week, 66 Siyanda families – more than 300 people – received a letter from the State Attorney, issued by the MEC of Transport, ordering them to vacate their homes by Tuesday 9 December for relocation to “transit camps.” (There were many errors on the State Attorney’s list – some families on the list are in fact living in the Khalula project – only 52 are in fact still living in shacks). As stated in the press released issued by the Siyanda branch of Abahlali in response to the MEC, residents refused to be: (1) intimidated by letters that were not legally binding to force an eviction, and (2) relocated to government shacks in “transit camps,” which cannot be considered suitable alternative accommodation.

In addition to this press statement, the national movement of Abahlali baseMjondolo sent an official response letter to the State Attorney, informing the MEC of Transport that all but 2 of the families still living in shacks refused to be forcibly evicted and placed in “transit camps.” Abahlali proposed further consultation with the Siyanda community, and reminded the MEC of Transport that, according to the PIE Act, an eviction could not be carried out without a court order and without finding suitable alternative accommodation.

The State Attorney, who responded respectfully to the Abahlali baseMjondolo national office, said he would take the matter to his client, the MEC of Transport. The MEC of Transport’s response is still pending.

The Siyanda Abahlali branch considers it a victory that the 64 families who refused to be forcibly evicted were not violently expelled by the eviction team and remain in their homes. Earlier this year, 50 families were made homeless in an eviction carried out without notice or a court order, and where occupants were prevented from removing their personal belongings from the shacks before the demolitions began.

The Siyanda Abahlali branch also wishes to state that the BEC from the local councilor’s office was present on 11 December, when the police-heavy eviction team arrived, and supported the community. In the past the councilor has supported evictions.

However, Siyanda residents said that the police presence during the course of relocating the two families on December 11 was intimidating. In the past, police have responded violently to peaceful marches by Siyanda residents. On Monday, 15 September 2008, approximately 60 residents gathered to protest further misallocation and occupancy of finished Kulula houses by those who are not affected by the freeway construction. Amid heavy police presence, a metro police officer reportedly brandished a loaded weapon at the crowd, shouting that he would shoot them with live ammunition if they did not disband.

Following shack demolitions earlier in May this year, residents marched to the Kulula Project contractor’s office to submit a memorandum, where they were fired upon with rubber bullets by police and sprayed with water canons. Five people, including a pregnant woman was shot, injured and rushed to hospital. These five were arrested by police at hospital, upon charges of “public violence.” All charges were subsequently dropped.

In a letter to the Mayor Obed Mlaba, The Centre for Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), an international human rights non-governmental organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland, condemned the existence of so called ‘transit camps’, stated that unlawful evictions in Siyanda and Durban was unacceptable, urged the Municipality to halt all forced evictions of shack-dwellers, and noted the disturbing trend of police repression against peaceful protesters legitimately airing their grievances against housing rights violations.

For further information and comment please contact Mamu Nxumalo (076 3339386) or Thembi Zungu (074 3423607) from the Siyanda Abahlali baseMjondolo branch.

Also see:

  • Siyanda residents wounded by police rubber bullets during road blockade, 4 December 2006
  • Protesters hurt as police fire rubber bullets, Daily News, 5 December 2005
  • What Happened at or to the SMI, 18 December 2006
  • Abantu abampofu namaPhoyisa, 14 January 2007
  • The Strong Poor and the Police, 19 January 2008
  • ‘No one can have it if we can’t’, Daily News 20 August 2008
  • Victory in Court While Evictions Continue Outside, 26 August 2008
  • Ward councillor locked in home over service delay, 12 September 2008
  • Isolezwe: Bebesho ukubakhipha ngodli ezindlini zomxhaso, 16 September 2008
  • Siyanda Crisis: Evictions, Police Intimidation, Unjust Housing Allocation etc., 17 September 2008
  • Siyanda Pictures, 17 September 2008
  • Letter to Obed Mlaba on the Siyanda Crisis from the Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions, 24 October 2008
  • Siyanda – the day before the big march, 9 November 2008
  • Memorandum of Demands by the Siyanda Abahlali baseMjondolo Branch, 10 November 2008
  • Pictures of the Siyanda March (1), 10 November 2008
  • Pictures of the Siyanda March(2), 10 November 2008
  • KZN housing development threatened, Daily News 13 November 2008
  • Pictures of the meeting to plan resistance to Bheki Cele’s evictions & pictures of the transit camp to which people are supposed to be forcibly removed, 7 December 2008
  • Bheki Cele Threatens 61 Siyanda Families with Forced Removal, 7 December 2008
  • Siyanda Abahlali baseMjondolo Letter to the State Attorney, 9 December 2008
  • Pictures of the removal to the transit camp (accepted by 2 families), 11 December 2008
  • Siyanda on Google Earth, uploaded 12 December 2008
  • 50 Families Remain in the their Homes and Refuse Eviction to “Transit Camp” Under Heavy Police Presence, 18 December 2008