Category Archives: rats

Another Kennedy Road Child Attacked by a Rat

Late last night 15 month old Mzomjani Mvunyiswa was attacked by a giant rant and bitten on the hand, leg and forehead.

Mzomjani is the third infant to be attacked by a rat in the settlement this year. In January Nkosi Cwaka died after a rat attack and in July Wandile Cikwayo was seriously injured when a rat gnawed at her fingers.

These attacks are a direct consequence of the failure to provide adequate refuse collection to shack settlements. The movement does what it can to organise clean up days, weekly fires to burn the rubbish and so on. But despite years of struggle around this issue, and many promises, refuse collection remaims entirely irregular and inadequate. The remains from the last fire have still not been picked up despite promises that this would be done quickly.

The government is very good at sweeping shack dwellers out of the cities as if we are rubbish but very bad at playing their role in removing the real rubbish from our settlements to help to make them clean and safe. The message to us is clear – stay in the cities without services and be burnt in the fires, waste our lives in the water queues, be raped in the night looking for a private place to go the toilet and have our children attacked by giant rats OR accept relocation to the human dumping grounds outside the cities where those of us that are not left homeless in the relocation we will probably get services after a long wait but will have to live a hopeless life without community and without access to work and schools.

For more information and comment contact Mzomjani’s mother Nonkululeko on 072 273 7092 or Zodwa Nsibande from the Abahlali baseMjondolo Youth League on 082 830 2702.

Sekwanele! We demand services in the cities. We demand refuse collection, toilets, electricity, more taps, drainage, foot paths, community centres and creches for all.

http://abahlali.org//////node/3786

17 July 2008

This morning a 2 month old baby, Wandile Cikwayo, was attacked by a rat that gnawed her fingers very badly. An ambulance was called but they refused to come and directed Wandile’s mother, Nonhlanhla, to the local clinic. However the security guards at the clinic were chasing people away saying that there were only two nurses on duty and that the people must come back another day.

Abahlali managed to arrange for a comrade with a car to take Nonhlanhla and her daughter to King Edward Hospital.


Nonhlanhla Cikwayo with her 2 month old daughter Wandile

This is the second time that a child has been attacked by a rat in Kennedy Road. In January this year a 4 month old baby, Nkosi Cwaka was killed by a rat. On 27 April 2008 Abahlali baseMjondolo held the third annual UnFreedom Day event on the site where Nkosi Cwaka was killed by the rat. Bishop Rubin Phillip gave a famous speech calling for justice for the poor.

The problem of rats its closely linked to the problems with refuse collection. Most settlements still do not have refuse removal. Some of the Councillors, like the notorious Derek Dimba in Pinetown, openly say that shack dwellers are ‘illegal’ and will never get services until we agree to move to the human dumping grounds out of the city. As we said before a person cannot be illegal. As we said before we are struggling for land and housing in the cities and for services like electricity, water, toilets and refuse removal in the settlements while we wait for housing.

There has been refuse removal at the Kennedy Road settlement since the big Clean Up Campaign organised by the Kennedy Road Development Committee and the DSW has provided a skip for rubbish to be safely stored before collection. But access for the refuse trucks remains a problem and we need a road that goes right down inside the settlement so that all the rubbish can be picked up.

Abahlali is calling for proper refuse collection in all shack settlements now and for an end to the attempts to use service delivery to try and persuade people to accept forced removals. Rats and fires should not be the price of city life for the poor. We are calling for cities for all. Cities in which no one is illegal because they are poor or because they were born in another country.

For more information and for comment please contact Lungi Mgube on 0833305392 or Phumza Grangxa on 0732743666.

Update: 23 July 2008 Click here to read a short article in The Mercury on the plague of rats, here to read an article in The Sowetan that, unfortunately, only gets the views of City officials…., here for a follow up in the Daily News on 28 July that does the same….and here for an article in the Sunday Tribune on 3 August 2008 that takes the views of the community’s elected leadership seriously.

http://abahlali.org//////node/3246

28 January 2008

In 2005 S’bu Zikode’s widely translated and republished article ‘We are the Third Force’ said: “You must see how big the rats are that will run across the small babies in the night.” One would have thought that the City would have responded by immediately scheduling an urgent meeting to discuss the rat problem with Kennedy Road residents. Instead Zikode was forced out of his job and arrested on trumped up charges and beaten up in the Sydenham Police station and widely slandered by politicians.

Now some officials are saying that the problem is the nearby municipal dump in a cynical attempt to misuse this tragedy to justify their plans to forcibly remove Kennedy Road residents out of the city. Others are saying that shack dwellers are not sufficiently concerned with cleanliness. In fact the rat problem occurs in all the shack settlements where there is no or insufficient Municipal refuse removal. It is not just a Kennedy Road problem and it is certainly not because shack dwellers are not clean enough. When people without proper access to clean water get cholera they are told that they must ‘learn to wash their hands’. The solution to the rat problem is not to give some NGO a contract to run cleanliness awareness workshops. The solution is refuse removal for all. Always the poor are blamed for the suffering forced on them by the rank contempt of the rich. If education is the right response to these kinds of tragedies it is the rich that need to be educated – educated in their common humanity with the poor, educated to understand that being citizen who has rights because you are a person and being a consumer who has rights because you have money are not the same thing.

In fact some academic interview based accounts of the break down in the relationship between the Kennedy Road settlement and Ward Councillor Yakoob Baig in 2005 point to the fact that Kennedy Road residents launched their own clean up campaign that year but the City refused to come and collect the rubbish that they had collected because they were not ratepayers and therefore were not supplied with the Municipal refuse bags which are the only refuse bags that the City will collect. The struggle to ensure that people who can’t afford to be consumers can still be citizens with a right to speak their minds freely and with access to decent land, housing, water, education, refuse removal, health care, child care, libraries, sports facilities and just policing continues. Bahlali bayanda.

Scroll down for various articles on this story from hell, this story from down the road

http://www.isolezwe.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=4226842

Ingane ilunywe yigundane okhakhayini yafa

Isolezwe
Front Page
January 28, 2008 Edition 1

PHILI MJOLI

SIDUVE endlini ubusuku bonke isidumbu somntwana onezinyanga ezine wasemijondolo ekuKennedy Road, eThekwini, okuthiwa ulunywe yigundane elikhulu okhakhayini waphetha ngokushona.

Kucishe kwaze kwaphela nosuku lonke lwayizolo isidumbu sikaNkosi Cwaka siduve emjondolo okuhlala kuwo abazali bakhe njengoba ubengayisiwe emakhazeni.

Ngesikhathi Isolezwe lihambele kule ndawo abazali bakhe bathe abanayo imali yokumyisa emakhazeni. Isidumbu sakhe besimbozwe ngengubo behleli eduze kwaso.

Kuthiwa lo mntwana ulunywe igundane elisabunzi nokuthiwa adlangile kule ndawo.

Isehlakalo sokulunywa yigundane kukaNkosi kuthiwa senzeke ngoLwesihlanu kusihlwa kanti uze wagcina eshone ngoMgqibelo ebusuku.

Ubaba wale ngane, uMnuz Mfundiseni Cwaka (25) odabuka ePort Shepstone, ubesadidekile ethi akazi ukuthi uzosikhokhela ngani isidumbu sengane yakhe uma esiyisa emakhazeni.

Uthe nakuba edidekile ngokumehlele, kodwa okuyinkinga enkulu wukuthi akasebenzi, ubamba amatoho, akanayo imali yokubhekana nezindleko zokungcwaba ingane yakhe.

Uthe wafika ngoLwesihlanu indodana yakhe yopha ekhanda nasesandleni. Uma ebuza kunina ukuthi ngabe kwenzenjani, wamtshela ukuthi ilunywe yigundane ngesikhathi bezicambalalele embhedeni ntambama.

“Umama kaNkosi uthi waphaphama ingane ikhala wathi uma ethi uyayibheka wabona igundane lisekhanda kuyo, wayithatha kodwa nalo laqhubeka nokuyiluma waze wayidonsa ngenkani,” kuchaza yena.

Unina, uNksz Ntombikayise Mzobe (22), obehleli eduze kwesidumbu sengane yakhe ubelokhu ebheke odongeni engathi vu, elokhu egobodisile.

UCwaka uthe indodana yabo ishone bengakayihambisi kodokotela noma esibhedlela ngoba bekuvaliwe ngempelasonto, bebelinde ukuthi kuvulwe namhlanje.

“Umtholampilo wakule ndawo uvalwa ngehora lesine ntambama ngoLwesihlanu uze uvulwe ngoMsombuluko. Ngenxa yokuthi besingenayo imali asikwazanga ukuhambisa ingane kudokotela ozimele,” kusho uCwaka.

Omakhelwane bathe amagundane amakhulu yinto ejwayelekile kule ndawo ngoba asuke ezifunela ukudla okuchithwa noma kanjani, kodwa akekho umuntu owake walunywa yilo.

Okhulumela amaphoyisa kulesi sifundazwe, uDirector Phindile Radebe, uthe isidumbu sigcinwe sithathwe ngamaphoyisa endawo sagcinwa emakhazeni kahulumeni izolo ntambama.

“Kuyaphenywa ngalesi sigameko,” kusho uDirector Radebe.

Ngo-2006 uMkhandlu weTheku wethula uhlelo lokuthi kuzanywe ukuqedwa kwamagundane agcwele emijondolo nokwakuhlelwe ukuthi luqale eMkhumbane, kodwa abahlala kule ndawo baluchitha lolu hlelo bathi bafuna kuhlanzwe indawo kuphinde kwakhiwe izindlu ezisemweni, ngaleyo ndlela azophela amagundane.

UNksz Neeri Govender, wophiko oluthatha imfucuza, uthe akanayo imininingwane ephelele ngokuthi lolu daba lwaphelelaphi, kodwa wethembisa ukuthi uzoba nayo namhlanje.

Iwebsite ye-Institute for International co-operation in Animal Biologic iyakuvuma ukuthi amagundane ayingozi futhi kungenzeka uthole ubuthi kuwo, ushone uma ungelashwanga ngokushesha.

Le website iveza ukuthi ziningi izifo ezidalwa ngamagundane noma engakulumanga. Phakathi kwazo kubalwa ileptospirosis okuthiwa isabalala ngokuthi igundane lichamele amanzi noma ukudla okuzosetshenziswa ngabantu. Lokhu kungagcina ngokukhubaza amasosha omzimba kubantu.

Kuthiwa ubuthi obudlulela kubantu ngokulunywa yigundane bungahlala emzimbeni izinsuku eziyishumi, kodwa ungasinda uma ubonane nodokotela ngokushesha noma uhlale eshisayo imizuzu engu-15.

http://www.themercury.co.za/?fSectionId=&fArticleId=vn20080129031842966C877842


“Baby ‘bitten by rat’ dies

Mercury
29 January 2008, 09:19
By Sinegugu Ndlovu & Phili Mjoli

An inquest had been opened into the death of a four-month-old baby who died on Saturday after he was bitten on the head by a rat.

Nkosi Cwaka, who lived with his parents at the Kennedy Road informal settlement in Durban, was bitten on Friday but died on Saturday because his parents could not afford to take him to a doctor or to the local clinic, which closes at weekends.

Ntombikayise Mzobe, 22, Nkosi’s mother, said she and the baby had been taking a nap when she was woken up by the child’s cries. She said she had seen a huge rat bite into Nkosi’s head and took the child into her arms, but the rat would not let go. “The rat eventually let go and my child’s head and right arm were bleeding from the bites. We were waiting for the clinic to open on Monday, but Nkosi died on Saturday,” she said.

S’bu Zikode, president of the shack-dwellers’ movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo, said although Nkosi’s death was the first to have resulted from a rat bite, shack dwellers had often reported being bitten by rats.

He said shack dwellers had been complaining to the city about the problem, but their concerns fell on deaf ears.

“Shack dwellers and our children are not looked after. Rubbish is not removed, which provides a breeding ground for these rodents.,” said Zikode.

The eThekwini health department’s Urmila Sankar said rats were a problem across the city.

“The main problem is prevention. Our prevention capacity is limited because we can’t set rat and poison traps in residential areas because people could get injured or poisoned. We have clean-up campaigns for informal settlements, but people don’t keep up the level of cleanliness,” she said.

Sankar added that her department would visit the Kennedy Road informal settlement and reinforce the clean-up campaign.

Police Dir Phindile Radebe said an inquest docket had been opened.

http://www.sowetan.co.za/News/Article.aspx?id=693632
Sowetan
Front Page

Killer rat strikes

Mhlaba Memela
29 January 2008

POVERTY: Children playing outside their shack at Kennedy Road informal settlement in Durban, where a child is said to have died after being bitten by a rat. PHOTO:MHLABA MEMELA

MOURNING: Ntombikayise Mzobe, left, whose son Nkosingiphile died after being bitten by a rat. With her is her sister Smangele and her child Smangaliso. PHOTO: MHLABA MEMELA

The parents of four-month-old Nkosingiphile Cwera, who died after being bitten by a rat at the Kennedy Road informal settlement in Durban, are still in shock.

Ntombikayise Mzolo, 23, and her baby were cuddled on their old iron bed on Friday when the rat is said to have bitten the baby.

The distraught father, Mfundiseni Cwera, 25, told Sowetan that despite their poverty, “my son was a blessing from God”.

“This evil rat bit my son on the head. We initially did not take it seriously because rats are common in this shack settlement.

“My son became very sick and died on Sunday,” said a grieving Cwera.

Police spokesman Michael Read said the matter was under investigation.

“We are still awaiting the results of a postmortem to establish the exact cause of the baby’s death.

“We have also been informed that the baby was bitten by a rat,” Read said.

The community was also shocked as they gathered in the small shack to support their traumatised neighbours.

“Since we stay near a dumping site, rats run straight into our homes. Some of these rats are as big as cats and are not scared of humans.

“They eat our food. It is not a healthy place for our children but we have no choice,” said a woman resident.

Thousands of impoverished people live in the filthy Kennedy Road shack settlement – a few metres away from a municipal dumping site.

Residents of this shack settlement are mostly unemployed and uneducated.

They are forced to scavenge for food from the nearby dumping site because they cannot access state grants.

Toddlers who should be in pre-school spend the day running around the dumping site.

Lindela Figlan, the local chairman of Abahlali Basemjondolo, was shocked by the incident.

“We are trying to help the family. It’s painful because these rats will kill more children.

“We appeal to the municipality to do something about this situation. We need homes,” Figlan said.

eThekwni Municipality manager Mike Sutcliffe expressed shock at the child’s death.

“We are the only city in the world trying hard to give decent houses to our people,” he said.

Sutcliffe urged the family to make an application to the municipality’s parks and recreation department for help to bury the child.

http://www.isolezwe.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=4228565
Isolezwe

Babanga indawo namagundane, izinyoka nemfucuza

Cindezela lapha ukubona Isolezwe

January 29, 2008 Edition 1

PHILI MJOLI

IPHUNGA likadoti, elendle, amanzi agelezayo, izimpukane, intuthu yikho okukuhlangabeza emijondolo ekuKennedy Road, eSydenham, eThekwini.

Le mijondolo kuthiwa ayigcini ngokuba yikhaya lezinkulungwane zabasebenzi abahola kancane nabadabuka ezindaweni ezikude neTheku, nabanye abangasebenzi kodwa iphinde ibe yikhaya lamagundane, izinyoka nesidleke samaphela odumo eTheku.

Ngempelasonto elinye lamagundane amakhulu azicanasela kule ndawo lilume ingane enezinyanga ezine ekhanda yagcina ishonile.

Yisigameko sokuqala sokuthi kushone olunywe yigundane kule ndawo, yize kwaziwa ukuthi maningi futhi ayabaluma abantu.

UNksz Nothando Chamane oneminyaka emihlanu ehlala kule ndawo uthe ngemuva kokuzwa ngalesi sigameko akasakwazi ukulala.

“Nginengane enezinyanga ezintathu, nginovalo lokuthi leli gundane elilume le ngane eshonile, kungezeka libuye lisihlasele nathi,” kusho uNksz Chamane.

Eduze kwale ndawo kunothango, ngaphakathi kwalo amaloli ayehla ayenyuka azothulula imfucuza, amanye athulula amakhemikhali okubulala ubuthi emfucuzeni.

Amakhemikhali kuthiwa yiwo abhebhezela imililo edlula nemiphefumulo yabahlala kule ndawo cishe minyaka yonke. Noma kunjalo kubantu abahlala khona, bayithatha njengendawo ephephile futhi eseduze nezindawo abathola kuzo amatoho.

UMengameli wehlangano yabahlala emijondolo eThekwini, eyaziwa ngokuthi Abahlali baseMjondolo uMnuz Sbu Zikode, uthe indawo ayinankinga uma nje kungathuthwa imfucuza.

Utshele leli phephandaba ukuthi iloli ethutha imfucuza ifika kanye ngesonto kanti uma seligcwele kukhona osasele alibe lisabuya.

Ngokwazi isimo abanye bomphakathi wakule ndawo ababe besalinda bavele bawushise kudaleke intuthu.

UZikode uthe bangaphe-zulu kuka-7 000 abantu abahlala kule ndawo.

UNkk Urmila Sankar wophiko lwezempilo eMkhandlwini weTheku, uthe inkinga yamagundane ivamile kuleli dolobha.

UMnuz Nkosinathi Nkwanyana wophiko oluqoqa intela okuyilo olucisha ugesi uma kwenzekile bazifakela ngokungemthetho, uthe akuvumelekile ukuthi uMkhandlu ufakele abahlala ezindaweni ezingakathuthukiswa ugesi.

UNksz Dora Zulu bathi baphila ngokuwagada kuhle kwezinkukhu amagundane.

“Siwagada nje ngoba siyazi ukuthi ngemuva kwegundane kunenyoka ecabanga ukuthi izolidla, amakati avele abaleke,” kusho yena.

http://www.isolezwe.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=4230356

Umbono weSolezwe
Baphila kanzima emijondolo

January 30, 2008 Edition 1

ININGIZIMU Afrika iyizwe elihlukene izigaba eziningi. Kulo leli zwe kukhona izimpunyela ezingomzimbukhalimali. Kulo leli lengabadi kukhona abaphila kahle nabangenayo inkinga yokuthi bazolala bedleni futhi bahlala emizini kanokusho. Kukhona abahlala ezindlini ezibizwa ngemixhaso ezingamakopi. Kukhona abasahlala emijondolo eyakhiwe ngamaphepha, ngodaka ngangamapulangwe, futhi abangenawo amandla okuba nemizi ecacile eduze namadolobha.

Ngakolunye uhlangothi kunemiphakathi ethe chithi saka nezwe lonke ekhosele ezindlini zodaka, abanye abazibiza ngovezunyawo. Kulo leli kukhona abalala ezintabeni, beqhuqhwa ngamakhaza ebusika, kuthi abanye bejabulela ukuqhakaza kwentwasahlobo bona babikelwe wukuthi sekuyisikhathi sezimvula. Kukulo leli lakithi lapho kugcwele khona amahlongandlebe, izigebengu ezidlisa isizwe ngamapayipi, abadlwenguli, nokunye okuningi okunganambithisiseki. Zonke lezi zimo zitholakala kuleli zwe elimnotho onconywa ngapha nangapha ngokuthuthuka kwawo.

Kuningi futhi okuhle okungakhulunywa ngakho, kodwa okuphambana nokuzwa ububha nesimo imiphakathi ethile ebhekene nabo. Uma ungakaze uyihambele indawo efana nemijondolo yaseNyanga, eKapa, nezakhiwo ezikuKennedy Road, eSydenham, eThekwini, kunzima ukuqonda kabanzi ngobunzima bokuhlala emijondolo.

Kuleli sonto sibike ngesigameko lapho kuthiwe “inkunzi” yegundane lilume ingane ekhanda yagcina ngokushona, khona kuKennedy Road. Leli phephandaba libe selilandela lolu daba ngokubika ngesimo umphakathi walaphaya ophila ngaphansi kwaso.

Kuyadabukisa ukuthi kokuningi okushiwo yiFreedom Charter kubantu bakuKennedy Road akusebenzi. Le ndawo ifana nesidleke sezifo ngendlela okugcwele imfucuza ngayo yonke indawo. Amanzi angaziwa nokuthi aqhume kuphi axhaxhaza yonke indawo. Izingane ezincane zizithola zisengozini yokulimala ngoba zidlala ezibini, nokugula ngokusondelana nenhlanganisela yodoti engaqoqwa noma engabuthelwe ndawonye ngendlela.

Asinakho ukuqonda ngezizathu zalokhu njengoba kuhlale kunomdonsiswano phakathi kweziphathimandla zikaMasipala nabamele lo mphakathi. Le ndawo njalo iseduze ngokuxakile nobukhazikhazi bedolobha leTheku. Ithe khaxa phakathi kwamangelengele amajalidi kanokusho lapho ukukhwehlela kwengane kuba yindaba ebizelwa udokotela. Ku-Kennedy Road kuze kuzwakale ngoba ingane isishonile ukuthi abantu bakhona bahlala endaweni engafaniswa negoqo lezingulube.

Uma kungenziwa lutho ukusukumela lesi simo, noma umnotho ungakhula kahle kanjani ubulungiswa buyohlala bungekho. Yihlazo leli kubaholi bethu.

Sowetan 1/2/08

Family battle to bury Rat victim

01 February 2008
Canaan Mdletshe

Municipality says it can help if asked to do so.

The South African Shack and Rural Dwellers Organization (SASRDO) has lashed out at the eThekwini municipality for failing to help the Mzobe family whose baby died after being gnawed by a rat on Sunday.

Four-month-old Nkosingiphile Cwera met her untimely death at the Kennedy Road informal settlement in Durban.

And despite city manager Mike Sutcliffe’s offer to help, SASRDO said yesterday no help had come as promised.

SASRDO chairman, Thembinkosi Qumbela, said: “After both the child’s parents told us about their circumstances, like the rest of the shack dwellers, we were expecting the municipality to show some sympathy and lend a helping hand, but we were wrong.

“Their quietness is shocking, but this is how they are. They couldn’t care less and it’s disgusting.”

Qumbela said he had visited the family yesterday and their situation was a concern.

“Like the rest of the people, they have nothing. The only people who have helped them are the local church because the child’s father is a member.

“They are the only people who have helped them with a burial site, otherwise they would have been stuck, not knowing where and how to bury their child,” said Qumbela.

He accused the municipality of spending millions of rands of taxpayers’ money on building stadiums and fancy hotels, but neglecting simple things such as taking care of the people who put them in power.

“When elections come, we know they will be flocking to our area looking for votes.

“To them we are just like cannon fodder who push them into fancy offices,” he said.

Spokesman for the municipality, Sindi Mtolo, denied that they had failed to assist the grieving family, saying that they could do so if approached.

“The municipality can help, not because we are responsible for the child’s death, but on humanitarian grounds,” said Mtolo.

“But again, we need to guard against setting a precedent that might be problematic for us in future, because if such a thing happens to other families, they would want to be assisted as well.”

http://www.sundaytribune.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=4236310

OpEd
Poor in hell while elite buys heaven
Sunday Tribune

February 03, 2008 Edition 1

Imraan Buccus

National attention remains fixed on the unlovely aftermath of Polokwane and the electricity debacle. At times like this we often forget the ordinary people who keep the country going, and in whose name most of the major battles continue to be fought.

The old Swahili proverb about the grass suffering when the elephants fight has become something of a cliché, but certain things do bear repeating.

This week Isolezwe newspaper reported that a baby had been killed by a rat in the Kennedy Road settlement in suburban Durban.

This vision of hell is difficult to reconcile with our city fathers’ constant focus on casinos, theme parks and stadiums. The old story that these elite projects will drive economic growth that will uplift the poor cuts no ice.

There is nowhere in the world where elite projects have done much more than enrich the people who get the contracts to build and manage them.

Every time I hear someone talk about how a stadium or theme park will save us, I can’t help thinking about Ngugi wa Thiongo’s brilliant Wizard of the Crow.

In this novel, a paranoid dictator throws all his country’s meagre resources into constructing the tallest building in the world, which he calls “Marching Heaven”.

Of course as resources flow into the concrete instantiation of his manic ego, they are sucked out of the hands of ordinary people, leading only to a phallic excess of bad taste amid profound misery.

I’m not the only one to have a nagging suspicion that many among the new elite that is pushing out Mbeki’s allies after Polokwane are after little more than their own piece of the “Marching Heaven” action.

Given the profound nature of our social crisis, our politics should be about putting the people, real ordinary people, at the centre of public life.

But there are scant signs of our own Evo Morales emerging from the new order. There are, for that matter, scant signs that a number of credible civil society leaders are due for the respect they richly deserve.

It seems the government is set to continue to plough ahead with its tendency to plan and implement its own projects, rather than to engage in a real partnership with its people.

We have two major disasters to caution us against top-down policy making.

The first, of course, is Khutsong. The second is the housing crisis in Cape Town. The government decided that people in the Joe Slovo settlement should be moved away from the freeway before 2010. They decided to move people to Delft, which is 30km away.

But the 6 000 residents of Joe Slovo have refused to accept forced removal on the grounds that they were promised houses where they live and that they needed to be in the city to access work and schools etc.

At the same time the residents of Delft, living in terribly overcrowded conditions, have simply seized the houses to which the government intended to move the Joe Slovo residents. The houses had been promised to them initially and they desperately need housing in their community.

Meanwhile the government has promised the land on which the Joe Slovo settlement sits to a developer who, in turn, has raised capital for it from the banks.

This is a disaster that could have been avoided if solutions were negotiated directly with communities, rather than imposed on them from above.

Without exception, every instance of genuinely successful public housing provision is based on democratic planning partnerships between governments and community organisations.

Two of the most famous examples are Naga City in the Philippines and Curitiba in Brazil.

In Durban we risk our own disaster. The stand-off between shack dwellers and the city that was rumoured to be heading towards resolution in December last year seems to have reverted to open conflict.

As The Mercury reported last week, Abahlali baseMjondolo took the city to court to stop illegal evictions once again, and once again they won a court interdict.

It seems clear that shack dwellers in Durban are just as unlikely to accept forced removals to places like Park Gate that are as far out of this city as Delft is in Cape Town.

But there are no signs that the city is willing to break from its top-down planning model. The partnership model seems to be reserved for our own “Marching Heaven” projects.

But while up to a third of the city’s population lives in a hell where children are eaten by rats and burnt in fires, it’s unlikely that the poor will care which elite is marching to which heaven.

Poverty is a crisis. It must be addressed as urgently as any other humanitarian emergency. But it also has to be addressed on the basis of respect and partnership.

Without that partnership, even the best-intentioned projects can do more harm than good. The simple fact of the matter is that governments need to work with people, not for people.

Nothing else has ever worked. Top-down planning, whether undertaken by the World Bank or socialist governments, has never produced a decent society.

If the commitment coming out of Polokwane was about genuine people’s participation in decision-making rather than a circulation of elites, I’d be resting a lot easier.

As it is, these are not easy times.

http://www.gilscottheron.com/lywhitey.html
http://www.gilscottheron.com/whiteymoon.mp3

Whitey on the Moon

Written by the Last Poets in 1969, covered by Gill-Scott Heron in 1972

A rat done bit my sister Nell with Whitey on the moon.
Her face and arms began to swell and Whitey’s on the moon.
I can’t pay no doctor bills but Whitey’s on the moon.
Ten years from now I’ll be payin’ still while Whitey’s on the moon.

The man just upped my rent last night cuz Whitey’s on the moon.
No hot water, no toilets, no lights but Whitey’s on the moon.
I wonder why he’s uppin me. Cuz Whitey’s on the moon?
I was already givin’ him fifty a week but now Whitey’s on the moon.

Taxes takin’ my whole damn check,
The junkies makin’ me a nervous wreck,
The price of food is goin’ up,
And as if all that shit wasn’t enough:

A rat done bit my sister Nell with Whitey on the moon.
Her face and arms began to swell but Whitey’s on the moon.
Was all that money I made last year for Whitey on the moon?
How come there ain’t no money here? Hmm! Whitey’s on the moon.

Ya know, I just about had my fill of Whitey on the moon.
I think I’ll send these doctor bills
airmail special….
to Whitey on the moon.

Sunday Tribune: Rats plague community

http://www.sundaytribune.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=4540242

Front Page
Rats plague community

August 03, 2008 Edition 3

Rat poison was put down at the Kennedy Road informal settlement this week by health authorities, but residents are not expecting the rat plague to end.

Residents say the eThekwini health department had used poison previously but nothing had changed, and rats were now bigger and meaner.

The settlement was in the news recently after two-month-old Wandile Cikwayo’s hand was gnawed by a rat. He is in a critical condition in Addington Hospital. Earlier this year a 4-month-old baby was bitten on the head by a rat. He later died from his wounds as his parents did not have money to take him to hospital and were waiting for the Clare Estate Clinic to open on the Monday.

Sick

Wandile Cikwayo’s mother, Nonhlanhla, is upset as her baby is “very sick in hospital”.

“His hand is swollen and looks green. He cries all the time and vomits even though he is not taking in anything,” said a distraught Cikwayo.

She said that she was not sleeping in her own room as she feared the same rat would attack her. “They (the municipality) were putting down poison for the rats but on the same day I saw a rat. Nothing is going to change.”

Dr Ayo Olowolagba, head of the council’s Communicable Disease Control unit, said they were looking at long-term sustainable solutions to eradicating the rat plague as it posed serious health risks.

“Placing the rat poison is a once-off thing. We are going to do a large-scale clean-up as informal settlements are notorious for conditions in which rats breed,” said Olowolagba.

Olowolagba said various departments of the municipality were involved in dealing with the problem.

“The housing department, vector control department, Durban Solid Waste, community mobilisation, we are all working together.”

S’bu Zikode, president of the shack dwellers movement (Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement), said the rat infestation was not an isolated issue. He said if the core issues were not dealt with “there will continue to be shack fires, rats and spreading of diseases”.

Rubbish

Zikode said large piles of refuse were scattered throughout the camp as Durban Solid Waste collects rubbish only along the main road.

“People use the refuse bags that are provided. The problem is, no one collects the dirt. This area is steep and it would be impossible for residents to carry their filled refuse bags such a distance,” said Zikode.

He said, “People have this misconception that because we live in shacks we are dirty, lazy and need education. Build the necessary infrastructure, and if the problems persist then blame us.”

An issue he raised was that there were only 12 toilets for 9 000 residents. The other 106 toilets that were built earlier were last drained in 2005 and are now locked.

Zikode said the toilets are locked for health reasons as children play around them.

“People have resorted to using the bushes, or building homemade toilets that are really just a shallow hole surrounded by planks,” he said.

Couglan Pather, head of the housing department, said they were looking at the feasibility of building on a portion of the site at Kennedy Road.

“We cannot build on the entire site and some people would have to be relocated. We are also looking at another site close to Kennedy Road but are awaiting approval from the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Water and Forestry,” said Pather.

Councillor Yacoob Baig agreed that there is a large-scale health problem at the settlement. He said possible reasons could be the close proximity of the settlement to the landfill site as well as litter that is always lying around.

“We have embarked on a campaign with the health department to deal with the problem,” said Baig.

Olowolagba said since there was no access for vehicles to the informal settlement, collecting rubbish would be a problem.

“We are looking at contracting members of the community to collect and transport rubbish to accessible points where DSW can collect it.”

Zikode said they had raised these health concerns with council for many years but have had no response.

“Only now that a baby has died and another is in a serious condition is something being done. We are being denied our basic human rights,” said Zikode.

Neeri Govender, Public Relations Officer of Durban Solid Waste, said the mismanagement of waste was one of the causes of rat infestation.

She appealed to individuals to take responsibility for their environment and use the resources provided to dispose their waste.

“In the short term DSW is looking at a major clean up. In the long term we are looking at strategies to ensure that rubbish piles are not scattered throughout the settlement and the same health issues do not arise after the clean up.”

Another Kennedy Road Child Attacked by a Giant Rat

This morning a 2 month old baby, Wandile Cikwayo, was attacked by a rat that gnawed her fingers very badly. An ambulance was called but they refused to come and directed Wandile’s mother, Nonhlanhla, to the local clinic. However the security guards at the clinic were chasing people away saying that there were only two nurses on duty and that the people must come back another day.

Abahlali managed to arrange for a comrade with a car to take Nonhlanhla and her daughter to King Edward Hospital.


Nonhlanhla Cikwayo with her 2 month old daughter Wandile

This is the second time that a child has been attacked by a rat in Kennedy Road. In January this year a 4 month old baby, Nkosi Cwaka was killed by a rat. On 27 April 2008 Abahlali baseMjondolo held the third annual UnFreedom Day event on the site where Nkosi Cwaka was killed by the rat. Bishop Rubin Phillip gave a famous speech calling for justice for the poor.

The problem of rats its closely linked to the problems with refuse collection. Most settlements still do not have refuse removal. Some of the Councillors, like the notorious Derek Dimba in Pinetown, openly say that shack dwellers are ‘illegal’ and will never get services until we agree to move to the human dumping grounds out of the city. As we said before a person cannot be illegal. As we said before we are struggling for land and housing in the cities and for services like electricity, water, toilets and refuse removal in the settlements while we wait for housing.

There has been refuse removal at the Kennedy Road settlement since the big Clean Up Campaign organised by the Kennedy Road Development Committee and the DSW has provided a skip for rubbish to be safely stored before collection. But access for the refuse trucks remains a problem and we need a road that goes right down inside the settlement so that all the rubbish can be picked up.

Abahlali is calling for proper refuse collection in all shack settlements now and for an end to the attempts to use service delivery to try and persuade people to accept forced removals. Rats and fires should not be the price of city life for the poor. We are calling for cities for all. Cities in which no one is illegal because they are poor or because they were born in another country.

For more information and for comment please contact Lungi Mgube on 0833305392 or Phumza Grangxa on 0732743666.

Update: 23 July 2008 Click here to read a short article in The Mercury on the plague of rats, here to read an article in The Sowetan that, unfortunately, only gets the views of City officials…., here for a follow up in the Daily News on 28 July that does the same….and here for an article in the Sunday Tribune on 3 August 2008 that takes the views of the community’s elected leadership seriously.