Category Archives: The Weekender

The Weekender: State turns against shack dwellers

State turns against shack dwellers

by Jeanne Hromnik

Published: 2009/10/10 09:03:17 AM

THE appellants in the Joe Slovo shack dwellers’ case against Thubelisha Homes might be forgiven for thinking the law is an idiot and an ass (and a bachelor, no doubt) after a recent ruling of the Constitutional Court.

Five Constitutional Court judges unanimously upheld last year’s high court ruling by Judge President John Hlophe that the 20000-strong community be evicted and relocated from the Joe Slovo informal settlement adjoining Langa, Cape Town’s oldest township, to Delft, 34km away.

Last month, a full bench of Constitutional Court judges suspended the court’s order indefinitely following an application by Housing Minister Tokyo Sexwale that expressed “grave concerns” about the “practical, social, financial and legal consequences” of the relocation.

In the context of the lengthy, ongoing struggle of Joe Slovo’s residents against the infamous N2 Gateway Housing Project for which they were to be relocated, it is difficult to see how the earlier decision overlooked such consequences.

It has become commonplace to compare the government’s relocation of shack dwellers with the forced removal policies of the apartheid government . The difference, however, is the recourse to law that the post-apartheid government has facilitated — which organisations such as the shack dwellers’ movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo, have been using.

One of the movement’s targets is KwaZulu-Natal’s Elimination and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act of 2007. It allows for a person resisting eviction to be imprisoned for up to 10 years .

In November last year, Abahlali baseMjondolo challenged the act in the Durban High Court. After Judge President Vuka Tshabalala rejected their attempt to have the slums act declared unconstitutional, they took the case to the Constitutional Court.

At the Constitutional Court hearing in May , Adv Wim Trengove, acting for Abahlali baseMjondolo, argued that the slums act seemed to be in conflict with the 1997 National Housing Act, national housing policy and provisions of the 1998 Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act.

This landmark piece of legislation, known as the PIE Act, gives effect to Section 26 (3) of the constitution which states: “No one may be evicted from their home or have their home demolished without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances. No legislation may permit arbitrary evictions.”

The circumstances the act considers are how occupiers came onto the land; how long they have lived there; the needs of its elderly, disabled, children and female- headed households; and the availability of suitable alternative accommodation.

The Constitutional Court judges in the recently reversed Joe Slovo judgment made three humane provisions in line with these circumstances . The state should provide 70% of the low-cost housing to be built in the N2 Gateway Project to former or current Joe Slovo residents who applied and qualified for housing. The residents were to be allowed to take part in a phased process of removal ; and the court ruled that they be relocated to sturdy temporary residential units serviced with tarred roads and communal ablution facilities at Delft or another suitable location.

As the housing minister’s application suggests, these provisions appear less than humane when viewed against the history of the N2 Gateway Project.

Phase 1 of the project was completed in mid-2006, with 705 rental flats. Very few of the 1000 families who were moved from Joe Slovo to Delft to make way for this were accommodated .

Phase 2, the building of bonded houses in the Joe Slovo area and Delft, is out of the financial reach of most of the shack dwellers .

Thubelisha Homes, the now defunct section 21 company appointed in 2006 to implement and manage the N2 Gateway Project, has moved people out of the slum-like conditions at the temporary camp into permanent houses at Delft at a rate of 10 families a year.

In March this year, Abahlali baseMjondolo won a victory in the Durban High Court, which granted eight orders that provided for judicial oversight of the Richmond Farm transit camp to which residents of Siyanda in Durban were being relocated.

They had been promised houses in the Khalula development, but when this fell through as a result of corruption, Bheki Cele, the transport MEC at the time, sought their forced removal to the Richmond Farm transit camp.

Residents were offered no guarantees about conditions in the camp, the duration of their stay and where, if anywhere, they would be sent next.

They approached the Durban High Court for protection.

The court ordered that the families moved to the transit camp be given permanent, decent housing within a year.

It asked for a report on the corrupt allocation of houses in Siyanda and, where necessary, that restitution be made to the victims of the corruption.

Then in August, the South Gauteng High Court ruled there could be no evictions at the South Protea settlement in Johannesburg until the possibilities of upgrading the site and relocation to a nearby site had been investigated. It gave the City of Joburg a month to report on the provision of water, sanitation, refuse removal and lighting at Protea South and ordered that “meaningful engagement” be undertaken with the Landless Peoples Movement .

Residents of Protea South had since 2003 been resisting eviction to Doornkop, which they describe as a “human dumping ground” distant from their places of work and their children’s schools .

Despite the importance of residential location to the livelihoods and family structures of slum dwellers, the Joe Slovo ruling stated : “The right (to housing) is a right to adequate housing and not the right to remain in the locality of their choice, namely Joe Slovo.”

In the landmark 2007 Olivia Road case in which more than 400 occupiers of two buildings in the Johannesburg central business district appealed against eviction, the Constitutional Court stated that engagement is a two-way process in which the city and those facing eviction should talk to each other meaningfully.

The Constitutional Court judges in the Joe Slovo case also ordered that residents be allowed full participation in their removal .

However, when eviction is fiercely resisted, and where there has been no evidence of “structured, consistent and careful engagement” in the past, this might seem at worst mischievous and, at best, legal naivety.

The Weekender: Kennedy Road gets global response

There are some empirical errors in this article but its broad thrust, noting the scale of international support, is correct and valuable.

Kennedy Road gets global response

by Sibongakonke Shoba

Published: 2009/10/10 09:03:17 AM

OUTSIDE SUPPORT: The Kennedy Road settlement was attacked by a mob led by shebeen owners in protest against a curfew curtailing trading hours. So far, more than 1000 scholars, activists, supporters and veterans of the struggle have signed a petition to President Jacob Zuma in solidarity with the community. Picture: MHLABA MEMELA

ON FRIDAY , a group of protesters gathered outside the South African consulate in New York to protest against a “shack dwellers movement under attack in Durban”. The protest, similar to gatherings outside the consulate during the ’80s protesting against apartheid, was organised by New York organisations Picture the Homeless, the Poverty Initiative, and Domestic Workers United.

The organisations had met representatives of the shack dwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo in New York in August.

“As Abahlali baseMjondolo faces attack and repression in Durban, poor and struggling people and our allies in New York City make common cause and stand with our friends in SA,” the three organisations said in a statement.

On Tuesday, a small group picketed the South African embassy in London in support of the shack dwellers.

Around the world, millions of people are responding to recent events in a small informal settlement near Sydenham in Durban, known as Kennedy Road.

Residents of the settlement were shocked on September 26 when an armed mob went from house to house, forcing people to join their planned protest.

Abahlali baseMmjondolo president Sibusiso Zikode says the mob was led by shebeen owners in the area who were protesting against a curfew that banned them from trading for 24 hours.

According to Zikode, the mob allegedly attacked the homes of local committee members of his organisation. In the 20-hour battle that ensued , about 27 shacks were destroyed, several people were killed and more than a thousand displaced.

Although many people have tried to politicise the incident, Zikode maintains it was sparked by the curfew imposed by local police and the safety and security committee in an attempt to curb crime in the settlement.

This was an incident that deserved front-page coverage in local newspapers and a lead place on radio news bulletins. But the news of the attack reached every corner of the world — and sparked condemnation and protests.

The community of Kennedy Road — under the leadership of Abahlali baseMjondolo, a civic organisation that fights for housing and basic services — received solidarity messages from human rights organisations, academics and churches across the globe.

The United Nations former s pecial r apporteur on h ousing made himself available to the South African press for interviews. Miloon Kothari said he had visited Abahlali baseMjondolo in April 2007 and wrote a report on housing in SA in which he specifically commended their work.

Since the attack, 1164 scholars, activists, supporters and veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle have signed a petition to President Jacob Zuma in solidarity with the Kennedy Road community.

It was drafted by Raj Patel, a British-born academic, journalist and activist who is based in San Francisco.

Like many people who have sent messages of support to the residents, Patel lived in Durban for two years and visited Kennedy Road several times.

Zikode says his organisation’s mailing list of 1500 e-mail addresses was instrumental in spreading the news of the attack to the world.

People on the list include academics, students, human rights movements, businesses, journalists and “ordinary people”.

Zikode says Abahlali baseMjondolo gained prominence in 2005 when it staged protests against forced evictions in Durban and clashed with police. “When the government banned our marches, that is when we gained our popularity.”

The movement formed partnerships with other local, like- minded organisation such as the Anti-Privatisation Forum and the Landless People’s Movement , which eventually came together in the Poor People’s Alliance.

To date, Zikode claims Abahlali baseMjondolo has 50000 registered members in KwaZulu-Natal and more in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape.

He says the relationship with international universities was formed when foreign students visited informal settlements, including Kennedy Road . They wrote reports about conditions in the area and returned home to mobilise support .

Abahlali baseMjondolo leaders have been invited to seminars and workshops in the UK, US and other countries, where they have spoken about the struggle of the poor in SA.

“That is where we formed relationships with other human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, Dignity International, War on Want and many others,” says Zikode.

“We have gone overseas recently. We have been invited by churches to visit England and America. We go there to speak the truth. That is our right.

“ It is true we have supporters in other countries. Most of these people are the same people who supported the struggle against apartheid. They are supporting our struggle because our struggle is clearly just.”

The movement uses new media tools such as Facebook and YouTube to great effect. It has seven videos on YouTube and the Kennedy Road attack clip has been viewed more than 1800 times.

Zikode says the website gets 3000 hits a day. Photographs of international and local solidarity protests following the Kennedy Road attacks are posted daily on the site.

The movement also stars in a documentary film, A Place in the City, which has been screened at festivals and universities around the world. Director Jenny Morgan shot the film in settlements around Durban, asking residents about their daily lives and their hopes for the future.

“Many people have contacted us asking what they can do to support us,” Zikode says. “We want to thank all those who are supporting us — especially the church leaders and all those comrades who organised protests in London and in Grahamstown.”

The Weekender: An alien nation apart

Published: 2009/09/19 08:10:20 AM
An alien nation apart

by Richard Pithouse

IN THE cities of the global south, elites are often desperate to repress the reality of shack settlements. Maps are printed in which they appear as blank spaces, laws are passed that assume that everyone can afford to live formally and, in the name of order and development, the poor are beaten out of the cities.

The great elite fantasy is the creation of “world-class cities” — shiny, securitised nowherevilles in which the poor understand that their place is to live in some peripheral ghetto and only come into the city as menial workers.

But cinema — from City of God to Slum Dog Millionaire and now District 9 — has put the shack settlement in the mall and at the heart of how Rio, Bombay and Johannesburg feature in the global imagination.

In District 9 the shacks in Joburg are inhabited by extraterrestrials which humans call prawns. Science fiction can, to borrow from the lexicon that the film’s hero Wickus van de (sic) Merwe has taken to the world, just be a load of kak.

But, like all forms of fantasy, it can also be a dream of the present, illuminating it with more power than the ordinary categories through which we see the world. When fantasy illuminates aspects of reality that are hidden by ordinary ways of seeing, it can reveal those ways of seeing to be the real fantasy.

District 9 is set in something very near to contemporary SA — Mahendra Raghunath reads the TV news, the Red Ants swarm through the shacks with their crowbars, and the human rights activists demonstrating outside the shacks are vastly less effective than the xenophobic mobs.

But the film also evokes the past. Apartheid is everywhere, from the ubiquity of white and male power to the peculiar type of nerd that Van de Merwe’s character parodies.

District 9 also reaches into a vision of the future.

Van de Merwe works for a multinational corporation rather than the state. Multinational security companies are already in the business of beating the poor into their place but they take instruction from the state.

In District 9, in a staple of nightmare visions of the future, the state seems to be a junior partner to the multinational.

By weaving past, present and future into a single cinematic vision, District 9 steps out of the all-too-easy, absolute break between bad apartheid and good democracy, to look at how some processes of exclusion endure or mutate as we move from one political system to another.

Some reviewers, referring to their experience of apartheid evictions, have written about how the eviction scenes have a strangely hyper-real feel despite the fact that the evicted are fantastical aliens.

But these scenes are also a hyper-real description of contemporary evictions. The bureaucrat who is “here to assist you” by destroying your home, the clipboards, the helicopters, the Red Ants, the casual and contemptuous exercise of arbitrary violence, the assumption that the shack settlement is a zone outside of the ordinary rules of society, and the relentless presumption of criminality are all very real aspects of our society right now.

Shacks in Johannesburg have always housed aliens. Apartheid turned most black South Africans into aliens in their own country.

In democratic SA, we turned Mozambicans and Zimbabweans into aliens.

The obvious value of turning the shack dweller into a real alien is that the film can deal with the continuities in the processes by which we turn people into aliens, contain them, criminalise them, beat them and then evict them “for their own good”.

District 9 confronts these continuities head on and so, although it is a fantasy, it contains more reality than we’re likely to find in many of the spaces that produce, circulate and authorise the official consensus.

It shows contemporary development-speak — in which the only real issue is the “pace of delivery” — to be a fantasy as ridiculous as it is perverse.

After all, we tell ourselves that the new order has made a decisive break with the essential logic of apartheid, as we are driving shack dwellers and street traders out of our cities at gunpoint.

We tell ourselves that we have a new order founded on human rights and protected by the best constitution in the world as we exclude migrants and the poor from that order.

We tell ourselves that building stadiums and “eradicating” street traders and shack settlements will bring us into a new era of prosperity while we are actively and often violently making the poor poorer.

The reality is that we have, at all levels of society, colluded to exclude some people from those who count as real citizens.

This exclusion is often built into our speech. Some of us call others makwerekwere.

The state conflates “illegal immigrants” with “criminals”. It conflates the theft of electricity cables to sell the copper with “illegal electricity connections”.

Exclusion is also being actively built into the structures of our cities. Shack dwellers are removed, often at gunpoint, to peripheral ghettoes.

The reality is that some people and some spaces are treated as if they are outside of the law. The state, whether wielded by the Democratic Alliance or the African National Congress, engages in openly criminal behaviour towards the poor.

People who cannot afford to live their lives according to the rules of a society that assumes everyone can be a consumer, are usually understood in two ways by elites. They are either dangerous criminals who need to be repressed, or childlike incompetents who need to be placed under some form of tutelage.

District 9 makes a welcome break from this consensus, which is another elite fantasy, when it shows the aliens have a weapon. In contemporary SA, those weapons are the road blockade, the vote strike and the land occupation.

But, just as our move from apartheid to post-apartheid changed who we turn into aliens but didn’t put aside the assumption that we should construct our society against the alien, this film has its own aliens.

In District 9 the Nigerians — as in Jerusalema, another recent film about Jo’burg — are presented through the basest racist stereotype. Their depiction is so extreme that many reviewers have concluded that it was intended to illustrate that as one alien is humanised, another is created.

But the filmmaker’s comments don’t lend much weight to this interpretation. It seems that the film has inadvertently reproduced exactly what it set out to overcome. Perhaps this is its key lesson. As we humanise one alien, we create another.

The Weekender: No temporary solution

Posted to the web on: 14 March 2009
No temporary solution

Life is uncertain for the residents of Blikkiesdorp, and they fear its thin tin walls may be permanent, writes JEANNE HROMNIK

BLIKKIESDORP won’t be found on any South African map. Its official name is Symphony Way Temporary Relocation Area and it is not supposed to exist for more than a short time.

The residents prefer their nickname Blikkiesdorp — Tin Town — as it accurately describes the 1000 or more structures that the city of Cape Town erected in Delft last year to house them.

The temporary relocation area is a stone’s throw from the shacks of the Symphony Way pavement dwellers . The 100-odd families have been living illegally along a blocked-off section of Symphony Way since February last year.

On March 2, the city notified the pavement dwellers of its intention to seek an eviction order in the high court to remove them. But last week, the Durban High Court granted judicial oversight of a transit camp in KwaZulu-Natal, and now the Cape Town residents intend to use this precedent to defend their eviction.

Provincial governments across the country have been using these settlements — known as temporary relocation areas in Cape Town, transit camps in Durban and government shacks in Gauteng — to “temporarily” house residents from squatter camps and inner-city slums until formal housing is provided for them.

“Transit camps often look like concentration camps with razor-wire fencing, spotlights, single entrances and 24-hour police guards,” says shack-dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo, which won the Durban High Court victory . “Residents are often highly controlled in these places, as if they are in prisons.

“In most cases, these camps are far from the cities where people live, work and school. People are taken there against their will with no guarantees about the conditions there, how long they will be kept there and where, if anywhere, they will be taken next.”

Unlike Tsunami, a neighbouring temporary relocation area , Blikkiesdorp does not look like a slum. The tin walls and roofs of the dwellings gleam in the afternoon sun. There is little space between the structures which are arranged in blocks, with one toilet shared by four households . The toilets appear to be functioning and do not emit the foul smell coming from those in Tsunami. There are taps with running water, but no ablution facilities.

Ashraf Cassiem, chairman of the Anti-Eviction Campaign in the Western Cape, says “the toilets (at Blikkiesdorp) are concrete, the pipelines are concrete” — an unexpected feature in a “temporary” camp .

At the entrance to Blikkiesdorp, three police vehicles and an armoured truck, manned by the Land Invasion Unit, are permanently stationed to maintain order and monitor the area .

Cassiem says there are no temporary relocation areas. The city, he claims, was given R20m to build Blikkiesdorp. It built 1200 structures for people evicted from the adjacent N2 Gateway houses in February last year and is planning to build 1200 more units.

Instead of a temporary stop and a prelude to permanent housing, it is being used to house everyone: people evicted by the council and other homeless families. The city has a 22-year lease on the land on which Blikkiesdorp is erected.

Blikkiesdorp, says Cassiem, is part of a strategy to move unwanted people — “like cattle … as if you are doing them a favour” — to the fringes of cities and outlying areas where they are less visible.

Temporary relocation areas in the Western Cape — such as Happy Valley, built more than 12 years ago outside Stellenbosch and now a vast informal settlement — are permanent relocation areas.

The metal sheets used to construct the walls and roofs of Blikkiesdorp are flimsy and poorly assembled. They can easily be penetrated and several residents have been robbed. Their locks have been cut and new occupiers installed . One resident, it is claimed, is living outside his former home — with his ID and other documents locked inside by the new occupiers.

Residents allege corrupt police officers hand out occupation rights for R600.

Life goes on at Tsunami. A sign above a defunct and odiferous ablution block reads: “Drink Beer Save Water.” Underneath, someone has written: “ibeer idrink ikhona apha”.

At Portia’s Hair Salon across the way, prices are low: R15 for a wash, R30 for a blow-dry and R50 for “Precise Dark and Lovely”. There are numerous spaza shops in the area. Blikkiesdorp already has six shops.

Xolani Bokolo has been living at Tsunami since 2005.

The authorities refused to allow him to rebuild his shack in Joe Slovo informal settlement after a fire there in 2005 left 12000 people homeless.

He says several Tsunami residents have been moved into the adjacent N2 Gateway houses, but when he followed up on his application for a house, he was told he was “not on the system yet”.

“The last forms that we filled in (applications for housing), they found them in the dustbin,” Bokolo says. He refuses to fill in another application , saying he cannot see a reason for doing so.

Bokolo has painted the interior walls of his tin shack a dull shade of powder pink, and has constructed a dividing wall to create a living room and a bedroom .

He says dust seeps through the walls, and despite stuffing paper into the cracks, he sometimes has difficulty sleeping at night because the dust is so thick.

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits condemns the government’s policy of using transit camps as accommodation for forcibly removed shack dwellers.

“Relocation to transit camps is most often done to make way for infrastructure and development projects which will not benefit those being removed,” it says .

Last Friday, the Durban High Court ruled in favour of residents who had lived in the Siyanda informal settlement who had been moved to a transit camp in nearby Richmond Farm. The residents had been promised houses in a nearby development. However, angry at the conditions in the camp, they sought the protection of the high court. It ruled that they must be given permanent housing within a year.

The court also ruled that there should be an immediate investigation into the corrupt allocation of houses in Siyanda and, where necessary, restitution made to the victims of corruption. It ordered that a report be made to the court every three months on conditions in the camp and that Siyanda residents can return to the court after two weeks if conditions in the camp are not adequate

A decision is pending in the evictions case of 20000 Joe Slovo residents, who refuse to move to the Delft temporary relocation area. Their case was heard in the Constitutional Court in August last year.

The Weekender: A forced removal to allow for ‘progress’

(A longer version of this article is available here.)

Posted to the web on: 13 December 2008
A forced removal to allow for ‘progress’

The eMacambini community is challenging the government’s plan to build a theme park on its ancestral land, writes PETER MACHEN

THE north coast of KwaZulu- Natal is dotted with towns gradually filling up with strip malls and gated communities blocking the view . Tuscan, Balinese and modernist architecture have obliterated views of rolling green hills and blue sea.

A little further up the coast, a local community is challenging this notion of “the end of history”.

They are defending a richly lived rural life against the virus of development .

The people of eMacambini have lived surrounded by a beautiful landscape for generations — with little extreme poverty and crime, in a place where community is more important than political affiliation.

Now their way of life is being threatened by the proposed development of the Amazulu World Theme Park .

The planned R44m development by Dubai-based Ruwaad Holdings will occupy 16500ha.

In addition to the theme park, plans include the largest shopping centre in Africa, a game reserve, six golf courses, residential facilities, sports fields and a statue of Shaka at the Thukela river mouth.

To achieve this, the eMacambini community is going to be displaced, 29 schools will be demolished along with 300 churches, three clinics and brand-new RDP houses. Ancestral graves will also be displaced. And between 20000 and 50000 people will be forcibly removed.

It is absurd that a vast Zulu theme park will destroy everything that is Zulu about the area — everything currently there.

The community of eMacambini first heard about the memorandum of understanding signed between the provincial government and Ruwaad Holdings in the media. Many of them were aware of talks between their chief, the province and two companies in Dubai. But they had not been informed that their entire world had been promised away by the provincial leadership.

Only later did the provincial authorities, led by director- general Kwazi Mbanjwa and Premier S’bu Ndebele, break the news — and threaten the community with land expropriation.

Anti-Removal Committee member Khanyisani Shandu recalls the meeting. “It was a top-to-bottom kind of approach — ‘We as government are telling you that it is going to be like this.’”

He says the province has no legal power to take away the community’s land. “The community owns the land. That is indisputable.”

After examining the proposal, the people of eMacambini rejected the project in its entirety.

On November 26, more than 5000 residents of eMacambini marched to the Mandeni municipal offices to deliver a petition to Ndebele and threatened to blockade the N2 and R102 if they did not receive a response from him.

After waiting for 10 days for a response, members of the community blockaded the roads with burning tyres.

Their protest was met with the full fury of the local police force, who used tear gas and rubber bullets to end the blockade. Several people were arrested and 10 people were admitted to hospital.

The African National Congress condemned the protests as “unfortunate and unnecessary” and its youth league cast the Inkatha Freedom Party as “political instigators”.

For the eMacambini community, such responses are further fodder for its disillusionment with the former liberation movement.

As the eMacambini Anti-Removal Committee says in a statement: “There will be no compensation for what we will lose. There will just be a swap of land — a 500ha township for 16500ha of beautiful and free land with rivers, valleys, pastures and beaches.

“In the townships there will be nothing for free. We will have to pay rates there.

“Here we are growing sugar cane, vegetables and fruit.

“Here we are raising cattle, sheep and goats. Here some of us survive on fishing.”

The community of eMacambini defended its land for centuries, surviving the threats of colonialism and apartheid intact. “And now,” says Shandu, “this so-called people’s government is happy to remove us. It’s really terrible, to say the least.”

He stresses the community’s response to the development has nothing to do with party politics. “We have all now come together in solidarity to say this is pure theft of the land,” he says.

“The premier has been saying that the people of eMacambini are rejecting development. But this is not development. It’s theft. It’s absolute theft.”

Inkosi Khayelilhle Mathaba, the local traditional leader who was sidelined in negotiations with Ruwaad, says Ndebele will shortly be leaving his position as premier to go into business.

He claims he has documents which show that Ndebele will get 10% of the shares in the development. Ndebele has refused to give Mathaba and the community the memorandum of understanding signed with Ruwaad Holdings.

A spokesperson for Ndebele’s office says the consultation process with communities is ongoing. The premier’s office will not release details of the contract with the Dubai developers.

Unlike many other rural communities in SA, residents of eMacambini say, “We are rich. We are not poor. We are rich.” They acknowledge that their access to land makes them rich and their removal to a township will send them straight into poverty.

They say they do not hold all development in contempt. They are in favour of development that would help them become richer — in the broadest meaning of the word — rather than poorer. But they do not want their landscape to change.

Mathaba and the community of eMacambini will soon be taking the matter to the courts. They are determined to maintain their land and their autonomy in the face of plans to turn it into a playground for the rich.

And if they win, it will not simply be a victory for themselves and their land, but for all South Africans who are in favour of self-determination and sustainability over rampant development.