Category Archives: Kennedy Road Development Committee

Report on the Return to Kennedy Road Campaign

Report on the Return to Kennedy Road Campaign

The historic meeting at the Kennedy Road settlement on Sunday went well despite the intimidation from the local ANC.

The background to this meeting, and its importance, is that in September last year Abahlali baseMjondolo(AbM) and the Kennedy Road Development Committee (KRDC), the openly and freely elected committee in the settlement, were expelled in violent attacks organised through the local ANC and supported by the police and the criminal justice system. For months after the attacks AbM was banned from the settlement. There were regular death threats and known AbM supporters had their homes demolished or burnt. But AbM began to organise underground in the settlement and then openly – always in the face of severe intimidation and personal risk. In some cases people were subject to violence. But when the courage to resist oppression is taken forward by more people and with more commitment than the attempt to maintain oppression the will of the people can slowly prevail.

Despite the fact that our members were openly threatened with death, despite the fact that some were detained for months without bail, despite the fact that the police and high level politicians supported the attacks on us and the repression that followed the attacks, and despite the fact that the homes of our members were destroyed for months our members continued to hold their ground. When they reached the point of being able to organise openly they circulated a petition calling for AbM and the KRDC to return to the settlement. Most of the more than 500 people that signed were women. They made it clear that while they could not guarantee the behaviour of the local ANC or the police they could guarantee that they would stand for our safety.

Sunday’s meeting was called by the brave women in the AbM branch in the Kennedy Road settlement.It was an open and public meeting. The call to attend the meeting was circulated beforehand with pamphlets. It was the first attempt to call an open meeting of the organisations that had been banned from the settlement on threat of death after the attacks.

The meeting was preceded by blatant and serious public intimidation in the settlement. This intimidation was led by Jackson Gumede, chairperson of the Branch Executive Committee of the ANC in Ward 25 and the unelected and highly authoritarian leader of the nearby Lacy Road settlement. For years Gumede has prevented free political activity in Lacy Road with threats of death. It has never been possible to wear a red t-shirt in Lacy Road. When we were attacked in September last year it was Gumede who, with the support of the police and high level politicians, first seized control of the settlement after we had been driven out. Two days after the attack Willies Mchunu, the Safety & Security MEC in KwaZulu-Natal, came to the settlement. At that meeting the violent attack on our movement was celebrated as the ‘liberation’ of the settlement. The politicians claimed that we were trying to ‘stop development’ and that ‘people would have to be jailed in order for development to happen’. They said that high mast electric lighting would be immediately installed and that people would be housed by February 2010. In fact we had been struggling for land and housing since 2005 and in February 2009 we had signed an MOU that committed the Municipality to upgrade the settlement. We had been promised that people who could not be accommodated in the upgrade would be given housing in the Cornubia development in Umhlanga. Mchunu said that a decision had been taken to disband our democratically elected structures. The politicians set up a Community Policing Forum (CPF) to replace the democratically elected structures. The CPF was never elected. It was appointed from the top down. Zandile Mdletshe was appointed as the head of the CPF. She was with Gumede at the settlement from very early on Sunday morning saying that people that attended our meeting would be killed or that their homes would be demolished and that they would be driven out of the settlement. The ward councillor Yakoob Baig was also there.

The police were at the settlement for the whole night on Saturday and they were there on Sunday. They even brought a helicopter but this time they were not there to repress us. They were there to do their jobs without political interference. They were there to keep the peace. They saw what Gumede was doing and they threatened to arrest him. They clearly and publicly stated that they had witnessed the threats from Gumede and Mdletshe and they said that if any one was attacked, or if anyone’s home was burnt that night they would arrest Gumede and Mdletshe.

Before the meeting Mdletshe was going through the settlement with a loudhailer telling people not to attend the meeting and saying that only the ANC has the right to call meetings. But our AbM members like Nozuku Hulushe stood up, despite the threats of the morning and the history of state supported violence and evictions, and said on their loudhailer that everyone is free to call meetings. Some of the AbM members that have been exiled from Kennedy Road since the attacks, like Cindy Mkhize and Zandile Nsibande entered the settlement for the fist time since the attacks and joined Nozuku to make this call for political freedom.

In the end only about 150 people attended the meeting. We received many phone calls and sms of apology from people who said that they could not risk attending the meeting after the threats to kill and destroy people’s homes. But those 150 people who were there were able to hold the first free and democratic meeting at the settlement since the attacks. Together we were able to reoccupy the democratic ground from which we had been evicted. We invited a number of neutral and independent people to attend the meeting so that they could be witnesses to what happened there including church leaders and academics.

The meeting was opened with the national anthem and a prayer by Reverend Mavuso Mbhekeseni.

The meeting was chaired by Mr. Mjozi from the Quarry Road settlement which is in Reservoir Hills in Ward 23. Mr. Mjozi was invited to chair the meeting because he is a democrat respected by both the ANC and AbM. He is the chairperson of the Quarry Road settlement in which both AbM and ANC members are completely free to advance their own politics. The ANC are in the majority there and Mr. Mjozi is not an AbM member but there is complete freedom for AbM members in Quarry Road. The ANC BEC in Ward 25 pressured Mr. Mjozi to withdraw from chairing the meeting. They told him that ‘only the ANC has the right to call meetings in this ward’. Mr. Mjozi is a democrat and he resisted that pressure.

The Kennedy Road AbM branch who had called the meeting were then given the opportunity to explain the purpose of the meeting. They explained that the purpose of the meeting was to call a community assembly in which everyone would be free to openly discuss a way forward for the community.

People were then given the opportunity to speak. The Kennedy Road women spoke very powerfully and very clearly. The main issues that were raised were as follows:

1. The importance of regular, open and democratic meetings: There have been no community meetings held in Kennedy Road since the meeting that the ANC politicians and the Municipality held two days after the attacks – the same meeting in which the attacks against us were celebrated as a ‘liberation’ that would now allow development to proceed. Speakers at the meeting on Sunday said that it is essential that the community return to the practice of regular meetings and that these meetings should be called and controlled by the community.

2. The need for a committee. There has been no development committee in the community since the attacks. There has only been the CPF set up by Mchunu but it was never elected and it does not deal with general community issues or with development issues. There is no one to report problems too. If you go to Zandile Mdletshe she will not even talk to you if you do not have an ANC card. This is undemocratic and it excludes many people. If you do have an ANC card and you need something from her, like a letter to give proof of your address so that you can access a grant or register your children at a school she will charge you R5.

3. The lack of help with problems. There is no one to help the people with their problems. When there are problems like shack fires there is no one to provide any help and no organisation to enable people to work together to help themselves or to take up their demands to the state. Before when there were fires AbM helped people to refuse the amatins, to access building material and even to secure the building materials meant for the amatins and to divert it into self construction. This is very important because when people are forced into amatins, even if they are at the settlement, people loose their land. They surrender their ownership and autonomy to the state. The KRDC has ears to listen and eyes to see.

4. Intimidation. Kennedy Road is no longer a community. Those that hold the authority were given it by the politicians and they are using intimidation to hold onto their authority. They have continued to chase people out of the community and to destroy people’s homes. This intimidation has destroyed the freedom of the people, their sense of community and their ability to organise themselves together as the strong poor. It turns people who were once the strong poor into scared individuals each just hoping to keep their families safe.

5. Electricity. Electricity was tabled as a big problem. There is now intensive disconnection of electricity. The Land Invasions Unit come to disconnect every day – even on weekends. The people of Kennedy Road can’t charge their cellphones, they can’t cook and have light with safety and there are now fires all the time. They won’t be able to watch the World Cup on TV. Even the highmast lighting that Willies Mchunu installed after the attacks has been disconnected to stop people from connecting to it. When AbM and the KRDC were there we organised very safe connections and we were able to use the organised and collective power of the people to stop disconnections. Now the settlement is dark again.

6. Rubbish. The settlement is very filthy. AbM used to organise clean up campaigns. We were able to negotiate with Durban Solid Waste (DSW) to get some skips at strategic areas in the settlement and then to negotiate to get the skips emptied regularly. Now there is rubbish everywhere, the rats are out of control and people are getting sick, especially children.

7. Community organised services. The crèche no longer runs. The HIV/AIDS Centre no longer runs. The hall is not maintained and it is kept locked up.

8. Employment. From time to time certain jobs come to a shack settlement. There might be some work like cleaning toilets or building something. Whenever some work came the KRDC would discuss it at an open community meeting. We would discuss the jobs and the process for allocating them. The people decided that the best way forward was to decide on the criteria for allocating the jobs and then ask everyone to submit their CV. All the CVs would then be put in a box and the right number would be drawn out, at a meeting, like a lottery. Everyone agreed on this process and no one was excluded from this process on the basis of political affiliation. Now there is no public discussion and the jobs only go to Zandile Mdletshe’s friends. Even ANC members who are not her friends cannot get jobs.

9. Development. There have been no meetings to discuss development since the meeting held to celebrate the attacks that drove us out of the settlement. At that meeting high mast lighting was promised and a promise was made to house everybody by February. The lighting was provided but it has now been disconnected. No houses have been provided and there has been no further discussion about housing.

10. The difference between top down party rule and bottom up self-organisation. People can now make a clear and practical comparison between these two types of politics. It is clear which type delivers people to politicians and which type enables people to determine their own future.

After all the contributions from the Kennedy Road people the KRDC was given the platform. Mzwakhe Mdlalose responded by explaining, once more, the progress that AbM and the KRDC had made in negotiations for land and housing. He said that this progress was a key reason for the attacks. He also said that the KRDC had agreed to risk returning to the settlement to meet the people because the KRDC are still citizens in the community. He made some offers to the meeting. He said that the KRC could:

1. Begin to engage DSW around reinstating refuse collection. But he stressed that this would only work if the community could mobilise to organise to take full ownership of the clean up process and that this would require a communal will to do things for themselves including clean up campaigns, constant engagement with DSW and so on. He stressed that without this mobilisation nothing would work. e.g. skips would not be emptied after a while.
2. Raise the issues of corruption with regard to the employment in the settlement.
3. Produce confirmation that they have continued to negotiate with housing officials about the planned Kennedy Road upgrade.
4. Meet with eThekwini Housing officials to discuss a way forward on the Kennedy Road Upgrade. Kennedy Road residents will be included in this meeting.
5. Insist in all negotiations that the promise of housing in the Cornubia development for those that cannot be accommodated in the upgrade by kept.
6. Stand shoulder to shoulder with the people in the settlement in their courageous refusal to hand over the hard won democracy in the settlement to rule by the few by means of intimidation, violence and fear.
7. Return to the settlement if enough people demonstrated their confidence in the KRDC and were willing to guarantee that they would stand up for their safety.
8. Guarantee that if they did return there would be no revenge and that they would not demand the return of stolen goods and destroyed houses. All that they would ask would be that their land should be returned to them so that they can rebuild.
9. Guarantee that they would resolutely resist all attempts to force people into amatins.
10. Watch that when the local government elections come the politicians are not able to claim that they are delivering what has been won by the people’s struggle.

S’bu Zikode was asked to speak to the Ward Councillor, Yakoob Baig, about getting someone else other than Zandile Mdletshe to get the letters that are needed for people to get grants so that the politics can, again, be taken out of this process. He agreed to do this.

The Dlamini King Brothers returned to the settlement and performed there for the first time since the attacks. DJ Fano from Siyanda also performed. It was a healthy environment for a free discussion. People could forget about fear.

The following way forward was agreed on:

1. Those that could attend the meeting would report back to those who were prevented from attending due to intimidation.
2. AbM and the KRDC will start negotiating with the state and other parties on behalf of its members in the settlement.
3. Everyone will work to end the politics of manufactured fear and to defend the rights to free expression and free association in the settlement.

The intimidation did make the meeting smaller but it didn’t shut it down. The door to democracy in Kennedy Road has been reopened. The new rule, instituted after the attacks and backed up with violence, that said that only the ANC has the right to call meetings has been broken. The freedom to discuss matters openly has been defended.

The struggle continues.

For more information, updates and comment please contact:

The Abahlali baseMjondolo office at 031 – 3046420
Nozuko Hulushe (from the internal Kennedy Road AbM Branch): 082 259 5492
Mzwake Mdlalose (from the exiled KRDC): 072 132 8458

The Return to Kennedy Road Campaign

Abahlali baseMjondolo & the Kennedy Development Committee
Press Statement, Thursday 10 June 2010

The Return to Kennedy Road Campaign

The truth remains. The truth frees. The truth cannot be hidden with lies for ever.

For lies to continue to hide the truth they must be constantly sustained and maintained. For truth to be able to emerge from under the lies we have to constantly remember what has really been said and done, by whom and for what purpose.

We have often said that the attack on our movement in the Kennedy Road settlement on the 26th and 27th of September last year was planned at a very high political level. It was planned outside of the Kennedy Road settlement.

The attack took the lives of two people; drove our leaders, their families, their friends and comrades out of the Kennedy Road settlement and left thousands of people homeless and displaced. Thirteen people were arrested for the crime that was planned after several meetings of the ANC structures in and outside the settlement. Eight months later five of those people remain in Westville prison without bail and without any evidence being brought against them.

We have warned that some of the people of Kennedy Road were made to be involved in the attack by turning their anger on their own brothers and sisters. This is something that happened elsewhere in the country in May 2008. It is now happening in eTwatwa. The residents of Kennedy Road who joined this attack had no idea of what was really going on, why they were being made to attack their own neighbours or who their real enemies are. Even those whose lives were lost may not have known the real reasons why they were fighting. The anger and desperation of people was exploited by those who remoted them to attack their neighbours. Those whose homes and belongings were destroyed or burnt still cannot explain why the poor were used to attack the poor. It makes no sense for any one of us. It only makes sense for those who wish to divide the poor.

The South African Police Services (SAPS) and the Metro Police were at the scene during the attack and can also not explain how they were remoted by the political authorities that instructed them which lives to protect and which lives not to protect. They must have feared to lose their jobs if they acted justly and lawfully.

For a long time now the Kennedy Road Development Committee (KRDC) have been receiving calls from several individual and groups in the Kennedy Road settlement asking them to return to the settlement.

The people and groups that are demanding the return of the KRDC are saying that the daily life in the settlement has become very threatening and frustrating without the self organisation of the settlement by and for its residents. The KRDC were elected by that process of self organisation. Since the KRDC, as the representatives elected by the self organisation of the poor by the poor and for the poor, were driven from the settlement everything that had been built up and achieved in the settlement has been butchered. There is no more crèche. There is no more care for the sick. There is no more ability to negotiate with the police and the state for a position of collective strength. The crime rate has increased enormously. Kennedy Road has become a settlement of fear and hopeless where there is no law and there is no order.

Willies Mchunu, the MEC for Safety and Security in KwaZulu-Natal, replaced our elected leadership with a Community Policing Forum. But this has not brought safety or security. The community is being abused in many ways.

Once again fires are being used as an excuse to force people into the amatins. The eThekwini Municipality is constantly disconnecting people from electricity. When people reconnect the connections are not properly organised and some connections are dangerous. The settlement has returned to darkness and fear.

Like they did in the old days, before we organised ourselves, the SAPS come to the settlement, kick in people’s doors and sometimes steal their belongings and money.

Once again, like in the past, the politicians are making their empty promises and disrespecting the people. After the attack Nigel Gumede, the Chairperson of the Housing Portfolio Committee in the eThekwini Municipality, together with Willies Mchunu, promised that the community will be housed by February 2010. Now Gumede and Mchunu are nowhere to be found. No one tells the community anything. Once again the people of Kennedy Road are on their own.

The community has begun to reorganise itself and to remobilise itself. An underground branch of Abahlali baseMjondolo has been running for sometime. Recently recruitment to the Abahlali baseMjondolo branch has become more open. In recent days there have been open discussions about the return of the KRDC, its families and others who were displaced. The KRDC has raised the issue of the safety of those who are being asked to return. They have also insisted that either everyone who was displaced will return or no one will return. Those who are calling for the return of the KRDC have said that they have suffered enough and that they will guarantee the safety of the KRDC. A petition calling for the return of the KRDC to the settlement has been openly circulated in the last two days and more than five hundred people have already signed it. Most of these people are women. They cannot guarantee the behaviour of the few people in the settlement who remain loyal to the local ANC councillor, Yakoob Baig, and the local chairperson of the Branch Executive Committee of the ANC, Jackson Gumede. But they have committed themselves to guarantee the safety of everyone that they have asked to return. They will not make this guarantee real with guns and knives. The will make it real with the right that every mother has to insist on the safety of her home and her family. Anyone who plans to attack the KRDC will have to face these women and the strength of their motherliness first.

Along with being the chairperson of the ANC BEC in the area Gumede is a shacklord in the nearby Lacy Road settlement. After the attack he, with the support of Baig and the police, seized control of the settlement. He was chased out of the Kennedy Road settlement in February this year after the ANC failed to respond to the community’s needs after the terrible fires in Kennedy Road.

The Abahlali baseMjondolo leadership and the KRDC have agreed and confirmed that that they will return to Kennedy Road this Sunday and hold an open and public meeting with the Kennedy Road community.

We are willing to return to Kennedy Road. The community understands that the attack on our leaders and our movement was a political plot driven from outside and high up. The history of the truth in this beautiful settlement, beautiful because it became the ground of our hope, will not be wiped away.

We believe that the demand for our return is a democratic and legitimate act by the community to express their vote of no confidence in Baig and those who are trying to impose their authority in the settlement.

Our return to Kennedy Road on Sunday will be completely different to the violence and hatred that drove us out. We will not come with weapons and division. There is no need for the government to send in the riot squad, the water cannons and their helicopters. We will come with open discussion, with isicathimyia and with prayer. Bishop Dladla from the Zionist Christian Church, who was able to remain in the settlement after the attack, will open the meeting with prayer. The Dlamini King Brothers, who were also exiled in the attack, will sing at the meeting.

The meeting on Sunday will be shaped by people’s discussions. We, as elected leaders, will be guided by those discussions. If those discussions conclude that we should return permanently then we will do so. If it is agree that we should return permanently then the first item that we will have to discuss will be to set a date for an election for the 2010 KRDC. The current KRDC were elected for 2009 and then driven from office and their homes in September 2009. Therefore an election needs to be held to elect a KRDC for 2010.

Those few in the settlement who joined the attack on us need not fear our return. We will not be seeking any revenge. We will not be demanding compensation for our destroyed homes, our stolen goods and our time in exile. We wish to move beyond the tragedy of the poor being remoted to attack the poor and to unite the community behind its self organisation. Our duty is to unite the poor and to demand justice from the rich and from the state. We refuse to be made to fight each other. Those who wish to remain active members of the ANC will be free to do so. We will ask only that they respect the democratic process in the settlement.

The meeting that has been called for the return of the KRDC and the AbM leadership to the Kennedy Road settlement will be held at 10:00 on Sunday 13 June 2010 at the Springfield College Sports Ground which is right next to the settlement.

While the rich are in their stadiums waving their flags and watching football, a game that many of our members play and love, we will be taking forward the responsibility of building the real nation. The nation that excludes no one, the nation in which everyone counts, the nation in which a shack settlement is a community to be supported and not a slum to be eradicated, a nation in which the self organisation of the poor is recognised as the foundation of our democracy and not a threat to society to be smashed by any means necessary.

The World Cup will go but our suffering will remain. Any responsible leader has a duty to concentrate on building the power of the people.

The meeting that will be held this Sunday will, as always, be open to all. The media are welcome to attend.

We also wish to inform the media that yesterday the case of assault that Zibuyile Ngcobo had laid against Nozuko Hulushe was thrown out by the court. Nozuku is the AbM activist who was assaulted by Ngcobo after insisting, courageously, on her right to organise freely for AbM in the settlement. Nozuku’s case against Ngcobo is going forward.

For further information and comment please contact:

Nozuko Hulushe (from the internal Kennedy Road AbM Branch): 082 259 5492
Mzwake Mdlalose (from the exiled KRDC): 072 132 8458
Mnikelo Ndabankulu (Abahlali baseMjondolo Spokesperson): 079 745 0653

Detention Without Trial or Evidence of Wrongdoing Continues for five of the Kennedy 12

Detention Without Trial or Evidence of Wrongdoing Continues for five of the Kennedy 12

The Kennedy 12 returned to court today.

On the 19th of February this year the previous magistrate made a ruling that ordered that the defense lawyer could have access to the police docket as well as the records of all the past hearings. However this information has not been made available to the defense lawyer.

There was a new magistrate today who did not want to hear anything about the previous hearings. The prosecuter repeatedly denied knowledge of this ruling and said that the court could not have made such a ruling. It turns out that all of the court appearances this year were not recorded. This took us back to square one and our lawyer had to reapply for access to the docket and court records.

Today the new magistrate ordered that the Kennedy 12 must appear in Y court on the 14th of May – 8 months after their arrest – where they will be given a date for their trail. She also made a ruling that the defence lawyer will be given the docket by the 14th of May. But the prosecutor said that she cannot guarantee that she could implement the order.

The five who have been held in the notorious Westville Prison will go back to the prison till 14 May. Detention without trial or without any evidence being brought to the court is oppression of the worst kind. This is, as Bishop Rubin Phillip said last year, a travesty of justice.

This is a political trial and the ongoing detention of the 5 among the Kennedy 12 that are in Westville Prison makes them political prisoners.

Our struggle for equality and justice continues.

For more information or comment please contact Mzwake Mdlalose of the Kennedy Road Development Committee on 072 132 8458

What is happening in Kennedy Road after the Attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo?

19 January 2010
Statement by the Kennedy Road Development Committee (K.R.D.C)

What is happening in Kennedy Road after the Attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo?

After the 26th September 2009 attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo in Kennedy Road by the shebeen owners and the ANC the life of the people has changed into misery. Everything is out of their control and some people are even abandoning the area due to a high level of crime activities making it unsafe. These activities are being started in the shebeens which are operating right through the night again.  Continue reading

Kennedy Road Development Committee Attacked – People Have Been Killed

Kennedy Road Development Committee (KRDC)
Emergency Press Release, Sunday 27 September 2009

Kennedy Road Development Committee Attacked – People Have Been Killed

Last night at about 11:30 a group of about 40 men heavily armed with guns, bush knives and even a sword attacked a meeting of the Kennedy Road Development Committee (KRDC) in the Kennedy Road community hall. There was no warning and the attack was a complete surprise. The Abahlali baseMjondolo Youth League was holding an all night camp for the Youth League nearby. The camp was not attacked but the people at the camp were intimidated and threatened. An international film crew at the camp witnessed the attack.

The men who attacked were shouting: ‘The AmaMpondo are taking over Kennedy. Kennedy is for the AmaZulu.” The KRDC and other community members who rushed to their aid were unarmed but tried to defend themselves as best they could. Some people were killed. We can’t yet say exactly how many.

The attackers broke everything that they could including the windows in the hall. It was later discovered that they had destroyed 15 houses belonging to people on or connected to the KRDC before launching their attack. They were knocking on each door shouting ‘All the amaZulu must come out’ and then destroying the shacks. Some are saying that three people are dead. Some are saying that five people are dead. Many people are also very seriously injured. As far as we know two of the attackers were killed when people managed to take their bush knives off them. This was self defense.

The Sydenham police were called but they did not come. They said that they had no vans available but they didn’t radio their vans to come. This has led some people to conclude that this was a carefully planned attack on the movement and that the police knew in advance that it had been planned and stayed away on purpose. Why else would the police refuse to come when they are being called while people are being openly murdered? When the attack happened one officer from Crime Intelligence was there in plain clothes.

This morning the police arrived under the authority of Glen Nayager and made eight arrests. As far as we can tell only members of the Kennedy Road Development Committee (KRDC) have been arrested and not one of the perpetrators has been arrested. If this is true it indicates clearly that the police are part of this attack on the KRDC. It also seems that the police are only taking statements from the people that attacked us! Some of the people that they have arrested were not even at Kennedy Road when we were attacked. They were in Claremont for an imfene dance. These arrests feel to us like the Kennedy Six scandal all over again but this time with an ethnic side to it because all the people who are arrested are amaMpondo.

We believe that this attack has been planned and organised by Gumede, from the Lacy Road settlement, who is the head of the Branch Executive Committee of the local ANC. He is a former MK soldier and is armed. There has never been political freedom in Lacy Road. Since 2005 we have been told that anyone wearing the red shirt of Abahlali baseMjondolo in Lacy Road will be killed. In 2006 Gumede personally threatened Abahlali baseMjondolo member and Lacy Road resident M’du Hlongwa with death for wearing a read shirt in the settlement. But anyone can wear any shirt of any politics that they like in our settlements. You will see ANC, COPE, IFP and SACP shirts in kennedy Road and inall Abahlali settlements. We are democrats. Our politics is a politics of open and free discussion – not violence and intimidation.

This is not the first time that our movement has been attacked. Last year both Mzonke Poni, head of AbM in the Western Cape, and S’bu Zikode, head of AbM in KwaZulu-Natal, were attacked and seriously beaten by mysterious groups of well organised and equipped young men. These attacks happened a few days apart although one was in Durban and the other in Cape Town. The men who attacked Zikode said that he was selling Kennedy to the AmaMpondo. Some time after the attacks on Mzonke and S’bu Mashumi Figland, Deputy President of Abahlali baseMjondolo who was then also the elected Chairperson of the Kennedy Road Development Committee, was also attacked and seriously beaten. Again the attack was very well organised and carried out by a mysterious group of young men who suddenly arrived out of nowhere in a bakkie. During the attack Mashumi, who is Xhosa, was told that the AmaMpondo must leave Durban and go back to the Eastern Cape.

The ethnic politics in the local ANC started with Jacob Zuma’s election campaign. Before then it was unknown in the local ANC and unknown in our settlement. People in the local ANC started to say ‘now is the time for the amaZulu’. They started to tell their (few) people in Kennedy Road that they ‘must take the settlement back from the amaMpondo’. This ethnic politics started with Zuma’s election campaign and so it his responsibility to take this politics out of the ANC and out of our settlement. We expect him to immediately condemn it and to immediately act against it.

Gumede, head of the local BEC of the ANC, has been trying by all means to undermine the KRDC and Abahlali baseMjondolo for many years. He has always failed. The membership of the movement continues to grow (we reached 10 000 paid up members at the AGM in November last year). Every year we have open elections by secret ballot in Kennedy Road and every year people vote for who they want to represent them on the KRDC. The ANC is free to nominate candidates for these elections and to test their popularity against the will of the people.

We believe that Gumede, with the support of ward councillor Yakoob Baig, has tried to build a coalition against the KRDC in order to attack it violently. Gumede has recently said publicly that he will turn the Abahlali baseMjondolo office into an ANC office. His coalition is still small but it is dangerous because it is now a militia. They have found 4 types of people that want to attack the KRDC:

1. People who want to follow an ethnic politics: The movement accepts all shack dwellers on an equal basis. We do not care where a person was born or what language they speak. This has caused those who want an ethnic politics to oppose us. We stood with the people born in other countries last year – now we are being attacked in the same way that they were attacked.

2. Criminals: We have a Safety & Security committee and we have been working to get the criminals out of our settlement. In recent months we have been working very well with the local police to get criminals arrested. We have also put a time limit on the shebeens saying that they must close at 10:00 p.m. so that people can sleep properly and that there is no violence, especially violence against women, when people get too drunk. The criminals and some shebeen owners do not like what the KRDC is doing to make the settlement safe for everybody.

3. People who want Gumede’s patronage: Every time the movement wins a small victory, like getting toilets built or even just cleaned, Gumede tries to ensure that the jobs go only to his people – to ANC supporters. We are opposed to development becoming misused for party politics and we are opposed to corruption. The movement oppose this in all the settlements where we have members. The people in Kennedy Road who want to get Gumede’s jobs are also unhappy with what we are doing. We also think that now that the Abahlali baseMjondolo has won the struggle against the eviction and eradication of Kennedy Road, and for the up grade of the settlement where it is, these people want to use violence to take over the settlement so that they can get the contacts and the power to allocate houses that they think will come with the upgrade won for the community by Abahlali baseMjondolo. We suspect that Gumede has promised them these contracts and the power to allocate houses. This is how local party politics works across Durban.

4. People who are making money from electricity: Operation Khanyisa, in which we connect people to electricity, is for free. People who were charging to connect people to electricity see it as a threat to the business that they have made out of the Municipality’s denial of electricity to shack dwellers.

The next Kennedy Road AGM is coming very soon soon. Once again the people of Kennedy Road can vote by secret ballot counted by an outsider for who ever they want to represent them. The people who attacked us last night do not want democracy. If they felt that they had support in the community they could just have waited for the AGM and put up candidates. We strongly believe that they attacked us before the AGM because they know that they will not succeed at the AGM.

What Gumede, and Baig are doing is not just an attack on the KRDC. It is also an attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo. And it is also an attack on democracy in South Africa. They have now set set up a militia to destroy the KRDC and attack the movement. We have no armed wing. We have never attacked anyone. Our politics is a politics of open meetings and popular democracy. It is a politics of debating and discussing and working things out together. The politics that is being used to attack us is a politics of war. Gumede was always a shack lord in Lacy Road. He has now become a war lord too. Abahlali baseMjondolo will mobilise its members across the city, the province and the country against Gumede and anyone and everyone who supports or tolerates his warlordism. We will also mobilise our supporters internationally against Gumede and his warlordism.

We see no difference between what is being done to us and what the apartheid regime did with the Witdoeke in the shack settlements in Cape Town in the 1980s.

After what has happened many people are saying to us that they do not trust the police. They are asking for the army to be sent in as the army might be neutral. Certainly no one trusts the Sydenham police to be neutral.

As we write the attacks and threats continue. We are still under attack. A member of the Saftey & Security committee, affiliated to the KRDC, was stabbed and killed this morning. He was not there last night. He was doing the imfene dance in Claremont. After he was stabbed the attackers tried to chase the ambulance away.

Gumede and his militia are not just a threat to us and our community. They are a threat to democracy in South Africa. It is very clear that democracy is under attack.

As we are sending this statement a helicopter and many more police officers are arriving. We hope that they will be neutral and follow the law – not Gumede’s politics of war. But as far as we can tell the police that are here are just looking for statements against the KRDC – those who were ambushed in the night! The violence is continuing. Gumede’s people are saying that if Mashumi Figlan returns to Kennedy he will be killed. We do not have confidence that he and others will be protected by the police. None of the perpetrators of the attacks last night have been arrested. We are not armed. People are very scared that there will be more attacks. They are packing their bags and fleeing the settlement. Hundreds, maybe even thousands have already fled. Some of us came to this settlement in the 80s and 90s as refugees from political violence. Now we are being made refugees again for the crime of taking democracy seriously and believing that we could choose our own politics.

Things are still confused. This statement was prepared in this confusion. We couldn’t even get all the contact people together at the same time. If there are any errors or important things left out of this statement we will correct them or add them when we can talk to everyone safely and send out a more detailed statement. Right now our main task is to make sure that people are safe – including those locked in the Sydenham Police station. We will work on that first. Once everyone is safe we will have careful discussions with everyone and issue a more full and detailed statement.

For more information and breaking news please contact the following members of the Kennedy Road Development Committee:

Mzwakhe Mdlalose: 072 132 8458
Anton Zamisa: 079 380 1759
Bheki Simelane: 078 598 9491
Nokutula Manyawo: 083 949 1379