Category Archives: Khayelitsha Struggles

AbM Western Cape Launches the Right to the City Campaign in Cape Town

The Poor Have the Right to be Housed in Well Located Land

by Rosalie de Bruijn (Dutch Researcher)

On Saturday the 22nd of May 2010 “the Right to the City Campaign” was launched in TT informal settlement, Site B, Khayelitsha. The aims of the campaign of the Abahlali baseMjondolo Western Cape (AbM-WC) are very clear: to show the world that the World Cup 2010 is not benefitting the poor, but is instead further marginalizing the urban poor from places they called home and from public spaces where they found their main sources of income. – “We want city life, tired of promises!” –

Besides creating this awareness about these evictions that were carried out during the preparations for the World Cup, this Right to the City Campaign is further used to claim the right to adequate housing and especially to claim ‘that the government must build houses within the city’ (AbM-WC).

“We are told that there is no place to build houses in the city, but they are building stadiums. They must not build houses far away from the jobs and everything, we as the poor also have a right to be housed within well located land.” – Mzonke Poni (Chairperson AbM-WC).

These are thus the main issues that the campaign will raise – accompanied with large collective actions – when all the eyes are focused on South Africa’s FIFA tournament.

During the speeches that were held before revealing the programme of the Campaign, the community leaders stated that they are waiting for 16 years on adequate housing, but nothing happened so far. They only received empty promises from the City. Besides this, the community members made clear that they want to be involved in the decision-making process and that the City officials have to come to the communities to ask what they want and to work together on an equal foot. However, space this for negotiation is limited and people are tired of promises made by the local government:

“Now is the time for the poor not to listen at empty promises any more, now is the time for the poor not to be patient any more, now is the time for the poor to do away with party politics and rally behind united front, now is the time for the poor to do away with useless negotiation, time for negotiation is over, there’s no time to talk now is the time for action.” – Abahlali baseMjondolo.

Members of Abahlali baseMjondolo are currently mobilizing their communities and allies to stand up and to house themselves forcefully within the city just before the FIFA World Cup will be opened:

“We are going to build shacks near Green Point stadium. When it rains, we will take over public toilets and make them our homes. If there are empty buildings in town, we will occupy them. We will stay there and demand houses. We want to stay in the city and when we will be evicted, we will stay on the streets and go to court” – Mzonke Poni.

The FIFA World Cup will thus be used by the Right to the City Campaign as a platform to show the world ‘that this [South African] government is not accountable to the poor but to the rich’ (AbM- WC) and this mega-event will be used by those evicted and marginalized from their spaces and livelihoods to reclaim their Right to the City.

For comments please contact Mzonke Poni (Chairperson of Abahlali baseMjondolo) / abmwesterncape [at]

Mzonke Poni on the World Social Forum

Another World is Possible

Reflections and Criticisms on the World Social Forum, 2009, in Belem, Brazil

Mzonke Poni at the WSF in Belem, Brazil

The Road to Brazil

My long trip started on the 20th January 2009 when I traveled from Cape Town to Durban by bus. I spent 26 hours on a City to City bus, moving from Cape Town via PE, East London and Umtata and then to Durban. As much as it was a long journey I must say it I really enjoyed it. I think it was nice touring my own country, getting the opportunity to be exposed to different corners of South Africa from Cities and Townships to Rural areas where the poorest of the poor are located as a result of the past.

As the bus goes from one City to the other you get to know the reality of the country and all the divisions of our society are displayed. You just see the difference between those who have and those who do not have. The gap between the poor and the rich is displayed very clearly.

While you are driving around Cities you see that there is everything from shopping malls, universities, schools, clinics, police stations, electricity, adequate public toilets, banks and beautiful (and expensive) houses.

But once you are more than 30 kilometres away from the Cities you will see poorly built houses made out of mud. They are close to the mountains and with few access roads and with no electricity, water taps or proper roads. When reaching theses areas you get to see the reality of life in our country and to witness the fact that divisions of the past are still dominant in South Africa. The minority still continue enjoying the freedom while freedom still remains a dream for the majority.

I arrived at Durban on the 21st January 2009 at around 20:45. When getting inside the town you go ‘wow’. It’s amazing and very beautiful with lot more high buildings than Cape Town. Of course it’s less friendly than Cape Town. It is also more complicated than Cape Town as well. But the challenges are still the same. It’s not amazing at all to find that the poor are also packed just outside the City in shack settlements which are very dense and which have no access roads at all. As a result people in these shack settlements have been the victims of fires each and every year. Life in Durban’s informal settlements is very frustrating because mostly they are outside the town and the are no recreational facilities nearby the people – no libraries around, no clinics around, no police stations around, nothing around at all.

When getting inside the area you will see the same people that you will see when leaving the area. It is very difficult to get to know people apart from people that are living at the area. Cape Town is a very busy busy place from townships to cities, from informal settlements to formal settlements and people are using areas just to pass from one area to the other, you don’t need to go out of the area or to town if you want to mix or interact with different people. I think this form of interaction opens up people’s minds through sharing of ideas and getting to know other people at the personal level. It gives you social satisfactions because you don’t have limited choices in terms of choosing who you want to socialize with. I think this aspect of life also needs to be recognized as a right not as privilege, as a freedom of socializing with all walks of life with out limitations that are being imposed by geographic locations, socio-economic circumstances and all the political divisions that separate people.

29th January 2009: The way to Brazil

Early on this morning I was little bit nervous, of course. But I was also overwhelmed by the opportunity to leave the country for the first time. But I was not sure of what to expect and I said ‘thanks God’ because I was not traveling alone. I was with my comrade from Durban – the deputy President of Abahlali baseMjondolo – Lindela ‘Mashumi’ Figlan.

I was also very curious to see which Cities and Countries we would pass while flying to Brazil and I thought this might expose me to just being able to see other African Countries. But to my surprise from Johannesburg we just crossed the deserts of Botswana and Mozambique and then after that we went straight to the sea. So I just decided to make use of entertainment facilities of the flight till we reached Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The arrival

It was amazing because we left the country just past ten in the morning and I was told that this is one of the longest routes to fly. But to my surprise we arrived at Brazil the same day at around past 4 in the afternoon.

When landing at Sao Paulo it was amazing for the first time to see such a wide city which is also very dense and immediately my mind made a connection with the work of Paulo Freire and I just said ‘wow this is what inspired Freire’s work and methodologies on popular education’. I also made connections between South African housing practices and international practices, and it become clear to me why Lindiwe Sisulu, the Minister for Housing, is very frustrated with the delays and challenges that are facing her flagship project of N2 Gateway Housing Project in Cape Town. She wants to comply with ‘international standards’, by ‘clearing slums’ that are at next to highways, airports, and along all major routes, by forcefully relocating people that are living at these areas to human dumping grounds outside cities. She doesn’t care what the City looks like to the poor who live there every day. She cares what it looks like to people who fly in to visit.


Just after landing we encountered problems with communication. It became very difficult for us to interact with local people, or even to ask for directions and etc. On our arrival at Sao Paulo the first thing we wanted to do was to buy privatized water as we were instructed by our travelling clinics not to drink unbottled water. At the airport there were lots of stalls selling food, drinks, snacks and etc, so we went to ask how much bottled water cost 500ml, hey! As we asked in English everybody was laughing at us and speaking a language that we didn’t understand. The only thing we could do was to lift up our shoulders, open our hands, smile and say ‘we don’t know’. When they spoke again we’d show them water through the glass, nod our hands and give them US dollars. And again they’ll say something that we didn’t understand until we decided to leave them and go to the other stall. And the same thing happened! On the third stall they gave us a hand signal saying that we must wait while they tried to find someone who understands a little bit of English. It was then explained to us that they don’t trade with US dollars and that we first change our dollars to Brazilian currency. But at that time all the foreign exchange places were closed, so we had to continue with our trip till to Belem, without interacting with local people. At the internal flights the situation was the same.

Guys that were coming from Mozambique were quite comfortable in Brazil. They just felt at home, interacting freely and it was very difficult for them to fill us in because they also couldn’t understand English. As a result of that they decided to distance themselves from us. After they distanced themselves Lindela said ‘Qabane, we should not worry. 2010 is coming and people from all these countries will be in South Africa. I can see now that people are more friendly to people that they were colonized with or by. When 2010 is in South Africa it will be our turn to be more friendly to Britain and all the people colonized by Britain.’

The 30th of January or Day One in Brazil at the Hotel

We woke up just after 7 early in the morning and we had a breakfast at the hotel. We had the opportunity to meet activist of the MST that were coming from Sao Paolo. Lucky some of them could speak little bit of English and they made our stay there at the hotel a little bit easier because we could interact with other people through their assistance through translation. With the help of the MST comrades we were able to share the struggles of the Abahlali baseMjondolo movement of South Africa with other activist from throughout the globe.

It was a pleasant experience to share a hotel with comrades from around the world. We were very pleased that managed to build relationships with people from Palestine, which enable us to understand the feelings and the frustrations of the people of Gaza and the conditions caused by Israeli apartheid.

It was very good also to share a room with comrades from MST. That enabled me to develop a better understanding of MST as a social movement in Brazil’s context and to be able to translate that into the South African context of organizing. It was good to understand the social movement perspective on a global level. I thought this sharing of experiences of movements involved in a mass based resistance was only to Latin America. But to my surprise 5 days later I met with other activists that are coming from Zambia, Southern Africa and they also confirmed the same practices of resistance that are dominant in Latin America are as relevant and dominant in Zambia.

During Lunch Time

On day one at the hotel nothing was clear and also we were not clear with the system of Brazil. So during the lunch we went to the kitchen for lunch as my comrade was dying out of hunger and we were told that it’s only breakfast that is included in our hotel bill and that we were responsible for our own lunch and supper. At this time we were still having dollars not Brazilian money and so we couldn’t trade at all. We decided to take a walk through the streets of Brazil and we went to the park, at the park there were these long trees of mango and there was a guy taking them off the tree using a long pole with an open cap to catch the mangos from the tree. When we passed him he said something in Portuguese and I replied ‘we don’t know’. He said ‘mango’ and I said yes and he gave us a mango which was yellow, sweet, cool and delicious. We were so happy that he gave us the other one. When we left we said thank you and he wanted money. I showed him by hands that we don’t have money and he laughed and said ok. We then left him with, at least, something in our stomachs.

The Weather

The weather was very, very hot. But although it was very hot there was no sun. It was amazing, because all of a sudden it would rain very hard but that would not last long, and people would just go crazy in the rain, really enjoying it. They’ll be wet and within a few hours they’ll dry out as if they were never wet. During the first day of the February, which was the following day, one of our friends from South Africa tried it and the next day she was sick and had to be taken to the hospital, and then from hospital to the private doctor.

The weather was the same till we came back to South Africa and I had to buy an Umbrella. In Belem in March you need to carry your umbrella wherever you go if you are scared of the rain. This is what I was doing because I knew very well that it will be very, very cheap to get flu – you’ll not even have to pay anything – but when wanting to cure it will be very expensive.

The Economy

Wow, it was an awful experience to see the poor participating in the economy. It was awful because it is just the opposite of what South African government is doing to us in South Africa for 2010. In Belem people participate freely but at home the government is evicting poor people who are selling at corners of different streets, especially those that are selling at centre of towns where there will be major events for 2010.

At Brazil the hotels only provide bed and breakfast. The guests are responsible for their own lunch and supper which is available at the stalls just outside the hotel – not at registered restaurants just an ordinary stall. That would never be allowed in South Africa.

People just come up with just their food to sell and chairs. People are doing this freely and are not being intimidated by the police or big businesses or by anyone. The worst part of it is people are free to sell alcohol without the licenses that only benefit reach people.

I think South Africa needs to learn a lot from Brazil in terms of practices because both countries are third world developing countries. What we have to learn goes beyond the economic practices. It is clear that the health infrastructure of Brazil is far better than in South Africa. Their housing approach is also better. It was amazing to see shacks within the city in Brazil, something that South African government would have been very emotional about. Lastly their transport system is also much better. I was amazed by the bicycles which are being used as means of transport by poor people, others were even using them to transport people locally to earn something for themselves.

From the First Day of the World Social Forum

The first day of World Social Forum was on the 1st of February, just after our second day in Belem. It started with a march. It was anticipated that more than 150 000 people participated in the march, which started after noon just next to the Amazon river, where people and different cultures met. It was very overwhelming to get an opportunity to see all the different cultures that exist in Brazil. Brazil it’s more or less the same as South Africa in terms of this – it is also a rainbow nation.

As much as it was an overwhelming experience to participate in the World Social Forum it was not impressive at all. Because the first day of the forum set the tone for the whole of the forum, and it was clear that the forum would be dominated by NGO’s/Academics and by Latin America.

Other people that were not coming from Latin America were unconsciously excluded from the forum, as there were no interpreters at the forum at all, and it was very difficult for people who were coming from outside Latin America to follow speeches or activities that were taking place in the forum from day one of the forum. It was made clear that it was not the responsibility of the organizers to organize interpreters for people, it was people’s responsibility to organize their own interpreters and it was very difficult for us to get that as there was no prior arrangements made. This was a pity. In our struggles in South Africa we have many different languages but our movements always take responsibility for organizing translation – especially for visitors. Of course the NGOs in South Africa want to do everything in English but not the movements.

I must say that in certain cases we were quite lucky as there was people that didn’t mind to translate for us, but that also limited our freedom to chose to participate in the programs that were relevant to the struggles of Abahlali and to South African context. We had to stick most of the time with people who were willing to translate for us and we had to change our program completely and to adjust ourselves to their programs irrespective of their relevance to our struggles or to the South African context.

As much as people were doing their best to accommodate us, it was not at all easy for us. In fact it wasn’t easy for the people helping us either because most of the time people that were willing to accommodate us were not coming from Latin America and they also had challenges in terms of translations as they couldn’t translate for us properly. It was very difficult for us to participate at most of the sessions that we have attended because of language limitations.

We also participated at the march of MST during the day of the address from four presidents from Latin America where Chavez spoke. But we had the same problem with translation again. You could see that people were quite excited about Chavez’s intervention. In his speech he disclosed that Barack Obama had came out to him and he said that Chavez is problematic and that he does not like him. Chavez also emphasized that the other world is not just possible but it is necessary.

As much as people were very impress by his speech myself I was not impressed at all by the practices that I had seen – the practices of dictatorship, dominance and general top down approaches. I thought that this was a radical space and that, therefore, the event would create space for activists to debate issues and engage with the four presidents that were present. I had thought that people would be able to influence each other directly. But instead it was business as usual. It was just another rally for big men to speak to little people, it was just another opportunity for the presidents to run another talk show and then leave. It was no different to how our politicians behave at home. This is one of the reasons why we have refused to vote for them any more.

In my view this technique whereby big men lecture the people in stadiums is politically based. It the technique that is being used by the politicians when they want to get or remain in power by demonstrating to people their abilities so that people can believe in them as their leaders. They want to look as if they are relevant people for particular positions and so they do this pretence of engaging with people but in reality they are not engaging with people. A real engagement with the people, well, that should be a two way process in which certain problems are being identified through dialogue and reflections and alternative solutions are being explored collectively. It can not be a one way process.

Even the process that is being favoured by the majority of people is very problematic. This is the process where people engaging with politicians by asking questions or stating problems and politicians are given an opportunity to respond. But in fact this process is very manipulative and undemocratic. The politicians they use it in a manner where people will feel that they have be listened to at and their frustrations have been heard.

But the problem with this process is that there’s nothing that is equal. The politicians have got the power and the people do not have it. Those with the power, the politicians, are being viewed as those that know everything. That is why people are told to ask questions and not to make statements, or come up with alternatives. They are viewed as empty vessels. This approach is similar to what Freire calls the banking approach.

In our movements we insist that everyone is equal and we work on that basis. We think together. Everyone discusses and debates together. We never have one person on a stage taking questions. If there are too many people for everyone to participate in a discussion then we just break up into groups and work it like that. This is a democratic approach. If Chavez or any other president came to Abahlali he (or she) would be welcome to participate in the discussions that we are having but as one comrade amongst other comrades. Really, I think that this is a better approach.


The World Social Forum was a success, due to the fact that many people participated in it and because local people supported it. It also created opportunities to expose the consciousness of local people (Brazilians) to the reality of market based and global based financial policies, which disadvantage the working class people.

But as much as the Forum was a success there was still a difference, a big difference between those who have and those who does not have. This difference remained a serious problem at the Forum due to the fact that people who managed to participate at the event, especially those that were coming from outside Latin America were mostly people that were coming from NGOs. Only very few people come from grass roots movements. The Forum says that ‘another world is possible’ but it itself is not another world. In most cases oppressed people are denied the opportunity to be part of an influential global process like this. So the forum becomes a space for an NGO elite to debate and discuss on behalf of the poor and not a space for poor people’s struggles to debate and discuss for themselves.

New ways of incorporating genuine activists and genuine movements need to be created, to ensure that the struggle of the working class is taken forward by the working class. If we do not address the power imbalance in terms of controlling resources for international mobilization the middle class people and academics who associate themselves with the working class people in terms of ideas will remain as the main forces that drives and control the struggle of the poor. The poor will remain marginalized and making noise at different corners of the streets while NGOs and academics travel the world to speak for them.

And we all know that most poor people’s movements have rejected those NGOs that want to be their bosses. For this we have been called criminals. If the NGOs and academics are serious about equality, about making another world a reality, they should stay at home and sponsor the movements in their countries to elect their own representatives to go to the forum.


It was a good thing for ABM to send activists to participate at the WSF. We found that we had to represent not only our ten thousand members, not only South Africa but even the entire Africa. Our presence gave us opportunity to interact with representatives from other African countries and we had opportunity to consolidate solidarity with our brothers and sisters who were recently victimized by South Africans and labelled as foreigners and kwere-kweres. As a movement this was very important for us.

Our presence also created opportunity for us to build concrete relationships with some of influential Latin American grassroots based movements who are well known through Latin America and world wide. We became especially close to MST. This will give us future opportunities to interact more with these movements and to exchange ideas and build more solidarity world wide. Hopefully one day we will be able to create a situation where grassroots movements from around the world can meet each other regularly and directly – a movement forum and not an NGO forum.

As much as we couldn’t come up with programs for the Forum in advance we were able, through our activeness during our stay at Belem, to manage to show our presence at the Forum. We were recognized by many NGO’s/Academics and progressive donors and by the media as well. We were quoted in some local and national newspapers and we even participated in a documentary which will be screened in Latin and North America. All this is good. Our attendance at the Forum was very much worth while. But we must still say that because ‘another world is necessary’ therefore it follows that ‘another Forum is necessary.’

By: Mzonke Poni
ABM Western Cape Chairperson
073 2562 036

West Cape News: Diarrhoea kills increasing number of under 5’s

We need toilets and taps – not NGOs that want to teach us how to wash our hands…

Diarrhoea kills increasing number of under 5’s

Brenda Nkuna

The number of children under five dying of or being admitted to Western Cape hospitals for diarrhea increased for the last period in which figures are available, says the Western Cape Health Department.

Diarrhoea claimed the lives of 149 children under five years old over the 2007/2008 period. This was out of 7,790 admissions to hospitals, said provincial health spokesperson Faiza Steyn.

This comes as this summer’s gastroenteritis season – which peaks in the hot months between October and March – draws to a close. Cases increase over this period because of an increase in flies and unsanitary conditions, especially in areas where there are a lack of services.

Although not providing figures for the current year, Steyn said in the year from April 2007 to March 2008 the number of cases were larger than in previous years and “many more children” required admission for re-hydration.

However, although figures had not yet been compiled, this increase did “not necessary” apply to the 2008/2009 year, she said.

Gastroenteritis, caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites, results in mild to severe diarrhea and can cause life-threatening dehydration in young children.
Steyn blamed the increase on a higher birth rate and an increase in migration.

She said hot spot areas included Delft, Gugulethu, Kraaifontein and Khayelitsha.

In the informal settlement of QQ section in Khayelitsha, parents complain that they battle to keep their children healthy due to a lack of services.

Veliswa Sidumo, 25, an unemployed mother of a two-year-old girl, said her child had developed a bad rash and she had no choice but to keep her in her shack until her condition improved.

She said she used a variety of household cleaning products to kill germs, but this did not help when her daughter played in sand outside where she was exposed to flies, human faeces and dirty water.

She said there were no toilets in her area. People used buckets as toilets and often spilt the contents outside her shack.

Another resident, Nosibabalo Dyasi, 25, said she was concerned about the number of children playing at a dump site near her shack, because they did not wash their hands.

She said due to a lack of clean water, people thought that washing hands was a waste of water.

Dyasi, an unemployed mother of a four-year-old girl, said parents were aware of existing diseases and how to prevent them, but due to unemployment they were unable to afford cleaning products.

“It’s hard to raise children here. Their lives are in danger, but where can they go?” she asked.

Steyn said sick children should be taken to a clinic “immediately” and parents should tell staff if a child had diarrhoea.

She said parents should continue feeding their child while sick. But they should make sure bottles and teats were clean.

They should wash hands after changing nappies, before preparing food and before feeding, she said. — West Cape News

The Big Threat to Informal Settlements

The Big Threat to Informal Settlements

by Mzonke Poni

More than 50% of people who do not have houses in South Africa are living at informal settlements, and informal settlements have been viewed as a step towards getting a house in South Africa.

Most people when getting to the City from rural areas, most of the time when they come they’ll first squat (live) with their friend, family members or relatives, while they are still looking for a work but once they get a job the first thing that they will think about is to get their own place first so that they can have their own space or privacy. Most of the time people view this option as the best option to jump the queue from the housing list as they know that if they bought a house at informal settlement and when the area is being relocated or being developed they will also benefit as they also owned a house from the area and this most of the time create problem between people who are coming out side the City and with people who have been in the City longer or people who have been born in the City but does not have a house.

One of the most reason why people buy their own houses at informal settlements is because they want to be independent and they want to be in control of their own lives probably because they are employed and they can afford a shack, 98 % of people who bought shacks at informal settlement when they bought it it’s probably they are employed, have source of income or have a financial support base system, whether a person is having a business or a family member will be supporting that person. There are few people that are living at informal settlement who can afford to buy houses for them selves, but chose to live at informal settlement, most professionals such as teachers, nurses etc that are doing this you’ll find out they are doing because they are contract workers, casual workers, others are unemployed.

In most cases all this people will be pushed out of the community by people that they are living with not only professionals but all people who works at better places or people who are having valuable goods at their shacks such as DVD home theatre, Computers especially laptops, good looking phones and other valuable items such as cameras, jewellery, expensive clothes etc.

Not only people who are having valuable items but also people who are contributing meaningfully to the development of people who are living at informal settlements, that is why most of the time people who are living at informal settlements are being represented by people who are not living at informal settlements because people that are coming from informal settlements do not want to play active role as they fear their lives because they are not safe because of the conditions that they are living under off. Most houses at informal settlements does not even have a yard, and the security of everyone is being compromised by the conditions, the areas are very dense.

If you turn to differ with others at a community meeting or you supported a serious decision in favour of others and against others it is likely possible that you become the victim or the target, because of this most people who are living at informal settlement they are happy with the fact that they are still employed and they are still able to provide for their families, because of this they chose not to involve them selves at issues that are happening at a community level not because they don’t want to be involved but because they fear for their lives.

As a results of this our communities are divided, and people sing different songs and as a results of this our communities are being ruled by the thugs. Tsotsi’s (thugs) they do as they please at our communities, they rule our communities. They have big guns and big knives. All these tsotsi’s are known to our communities, they rob a cell phone from one corner and they sell it to the other corner from the same community, they steal a DVD from one house and they will sell it to the other house. They still from the same community and they will sell it from the same community and people are enjoying buying cheap goods from tsotsi’s without understanding that they are destroying our communities.

This has became a big threat to our communities.

From Site B, Town two to Site C, everyone is talking about tsotsi’s and when people talk about tsotsi’s you might thought that they are talking about people that they don’t know whereas they talk about people that they know, when community meeting is called to address the issue of crime, people will not participate or they might surprise you, they can take a total different position and you will be viewed as someone who is having a personal problem with tsotsi’s, and now they will not be called as tsotsis they will be called by their names by the very same people that they were calling them as tsotsis.

If you want to be a target at our communities call a meeting and start addressing the issue of crime and you will be a target, few people will support you but the majority will sit back or not participate at all.

The worst part is these tsotsis will shoot, or kill someone in front of people and no one will come out and say ‘I’ve seen who killed the other person’, and this means your security is being compromised by your neighbour and by your community, this means the are people around you but you are not safe.

When something happens in our communities the first people that we criticized of their incompetence are the police, how can you criticized them when reporting a crime scene and no one saw a suspect or no one is willing to come out and testify against the suspect? I am not sure what kind of communities that we are building, if people does not want to unite and deal with this threat, if we are not taking the issue of crime at our communities serious we are going to lose skilled people at our communities and we’ll always be the victims of the system as there will be no skilled people at our communities to address issues that affect our people such as lack of tapes, toilets and electricity as a results of this our communities will not be developed but be
destroyed by the tsotsis and the system.

If at each an every corner of our communities we can make sure people comes together and fight crime we can be able to build crime free communities and our skilled people who were forced out of the community by uncalled activities can be able to come back to our communities and contribute with skills that they have in order to advance the interest of the poor.

When people address the issue of crime, I am not saying community must be up into arms and try to solve crime with crime, I think when someone is ding justice is doing something that will be proud of where a person will be able to say a justice has been done, but killing someone is not justice, or beating someone is not justice.

The are few options that are available at communities to address the issue of crime.

Before we want to deal with this threat to our communities, first we must understand the cause of crime at communities, because if we don’t understand the cause then we will fight a losing back battle at our communities and we will be frustrated and lose control, as a results of this we will start beating people or stoning people to death with a thought that we are dealing with crime at our communities.

The reality is whether we like it or not crime will not be combated through two popular systems that are in favour of many people at our communities

1. Jail system
2. Community Justice

Jail System.

The jail system is not a good system especially for rehabilitation, instead of rehabilitating a person it only build a criminal. The system is not working and it need to be scraped or overhauled completely. In my view most people that goes to jail are innocent and are being failed by the system. Most of the time people steal things that they don’t need, but for selling them so that they can get cash/money to survive. This means the system has failed that person. It is the responsibility of government to create job opportunities for people who are unemployed,and create skills training program and income generating project for people who does not have any educational qualification of formal educations.

Most people who commit crime at our communities does not have any educational qualification and most of them are unemployed and some of them does not even have matric, they have dropped at high school for certain financial reason. All people who commit crime goes to jail, it doesn’t matter whether you have killed someone or stole from someone else, if you go to jail you all go to the same system, and most people today who are criminals are being built by the jail system, someone make a mistake and stole someone’s television because that person was very desperate for money not even for drugs but for for food, as part of that you’ll find out when people steal things they don’t steal things because they want them, they steal them because they want to sell them in order to make cash. If people steal things because they want to get cash in order to survive, can we really say they deserve to go to jail and mix with big criminals who killed people, and raped people? If we do then what we are doing we are contributing on building stronger criminals, because these people when they are arrested they are being recruited by gangsters, and when they come out of the prison they join or form gangsters, what does this mean? This means by sending people to jail we are sending them to be trained as

The way forward

Everyone does make mistakes, as human beings and we all need a second chance in life. Crime can not be combated through the jail system but through creating employment, skills training program and creating income generating programs for unemployed people. If people commit crime in our communities that person has commuted crime on a community level and that person must be punished on a community level not by sending a person to jail. A person must do a community service for a certain period, and while a person is doing a community service such person must be capacitated with life skills and it should be a must for a person to participate at these life skills programs and also those who commit big crimes such as arm robbery they also need to be given a second chance before people are being send to jail, and when people undermine this kind of system of community service it is then that they’ll need to be send to jail and when they are being send to jail they must face a life sentence, so that people can understand that committing crime is a serious offence, and people were given the second chance. I believe we all make mistakes, and I’ve seen people making mistakes and admit that they’ve made a mistake, and if they had stolen people’s goods they’ll return them and ask forgiveness and people are being forgiven and if it means they must pay back whatever they’ve sold they are able to do that, but if such person was sent to jail that person would not have asked for forgiven, instead he or she would have go straight to jail and it is highly possible that person at jail would have joined one of gangsters.

Community Justice System

This is not a good System of justice but a system of heartless people, who are frustrated and fedup with these uncalled activities, but when looking at this system very close you’ll find out the same people that beat people to death are the very same people that failed those people at their communities, because these people that commit crime in our communities are people that we live with and most of the time these people are being failed by us, community members, they suffer in front of us and there’s no one who is willing to share with them, instead of helping them we gossip about them, most of the time when people commit crime especially at a community level they’ll steal electric wires, phones, do house breaking, steal money, rob people make the community unsafe etc.

They are doing it because they are unemployed and they are hungry and there’s no one is willing to assist them instead of seeing the community as a place to protect they see the community as a place to make money through these uncalled activities and they also joined gangsters, and share the information about their community with other gangsters, they’ll go and rob at other area and people from other area comes and commit crime at heir area, and this makes the community unsafe for everyone.

Way forward

This kind of system can also be prevented by the community members only if everyone cares enough about other human being, part of the challenges will be this so called capitalist system which does not enable people to learn to share with those that they don’t have, instead it create division and competition in our communities.

It becomes difficult for people to help others especially if they’ll will not benefit from the process,in our days people at our communities will only help you only if the is something in return and this kind of attitude is the one that lead those that does not have to join gangster and steal from those
that they have within the community.

Each and every community must accept local responsibility and come up with their community program on how to prevent crime. People who are unemployed at our communities are known by community members and people who are on drugs are known at our communities, people who steals cars are known to our communities, people who are robbing people are known at our communities, then what makes it so difficult for people to manage these issues at our communities, there’s nothing at all but its just that our communities are divided and these criminals they are taking the advantage of such division within our communities, and these people that are committing crime most of the time are not living alone they are living with their family members or their parents.
There’s nothing that can not be controlled and managed at a community level.

In conclusion

1. If government does not finance and empower communities to initiate their own community programs such as skills training and development crime will not be combated at our communities and people on the ground will remain the victims of crime and more money will be spend on building more jails and on criminals.
2. As long as the educational system does not support those children who comes from highly disadvantage communities then will continue having more people dropping out of school before they finish Matric and eventually they’ll join gangsters in order to maintain themselves.
3. As long as government continue implementing these so called neo liberal based policies, that create gap between the poor and the rich, crime level will continue increasing on a daily basis.
4. As long as people at a community level view crime as something that need to be dealt with by the Police, the Police will continue failing community members, because without the help of the community members the Police will always failed our community.
5. As long as people are still under paid at work and the price of food keeps increasing the crime rate will not be tackled, as long as goods are not affordable to certain group of people crime will always increase at our communities.
6. As long certain jobs are not being created , the crime rate will continue increasing at our communities
7. As long as public private partnership is still the option crime will continue increasing at our communities.
8. As long as people are still homeless, unemployed, and are still living under the appalling conditions, crime will not be combated.

By: Mzonke Poni
ABM WC Chairperson

Devastating Fire in RR Section Khayelitsha – No Electricity! No Vote!

Fire At RR Section, Khayelitsha, Cape Town

More than 100 shacks burned down over the weekend at RR Section Site B and left more than 500 people homeless including women, children and disabled people.

It was early in the morning past one on Saturday when the fire started at RR Section and it started at one shack which is owned by a 30 year old man, according to the neighbour’s he was drunk and left paraffin stove unattended and most people believed that he was the cause of the fire.

RR Section is a home to more than 6000 families and the area was established late 80’s, and the area does not have electricity , as a results of that people use illegal connections, other people get electricity from nearby neighbourhood which is serviced with electricity, Toilet and plots and others use illegal connections direct from electrical poles.

The are few chemical toilets at RR, and area is also flood prone. When its winter people at RR each an every year their houses are flooded.

Last week Thursday (06/11/08)the residents of RR, TR and Site C they barricaded lansdown Road with burning tyres and rubbish (waste) after the officials from Eskom escorted by the SAPS and Metro Police were cutting their illegal electric connections.

One week after the legitimate protest people more than 500 people at RR are homeless and instead of the City of Cape Town providing people with electricity that they have been demanding for the past 10 years, they chose to assist people of RR with blankets, Food, 5 sheets (zincs) and ten poles. According to Mr. Vango the illegal connection also contributed on spreading the fire easily. Yesterday (Sunday 09/11/08) while the president of the ANC Jacob Zuma was speaking at Langa campaigning for the ANC for next years elections, people at RR had a community meeting at they agreed that if their area is not electrified before 2009 elections they will not participate at next years bourgeois elections. No Electricity!! No Vote!! And Abahlali baseMjondolo Western Cape had a march last month on the 23rd October 2008 and they declared that No Land!! No house!! No Vote!! One of AbM’s demands is that all the informal settlements must be electrified and serviced with water and sanitation.

As a failure from City of Cape Town to Electrified RR section for the past 10 years, AbM Western Cape demands that the City to compensate all the fire victims at RR. As a result of the fire one person died and we call on the City to conduct the funeral.

for more info please call Mr. Vango at 0826880183