||State turns against shack dwellers
10 October 2009
UP IN FLAMES: Residents of Joe Slovo informal settlement have to contend
with more than fires as they try to secure permanent homes for
themselves. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
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
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
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
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
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.
Kennedy Road gets global response
Weekender 10 October 2009
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
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
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 special rapporteur on housing 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
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
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
“ 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 Abahlali.org 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.”
Dumping ground' for unwanted people
Friday, October 9, 2009
A man with discoloured skin -- dying alone in a shack of Aids -- speaks
volumes about conditions in Blikkiesdorp, described as a "dumping
ground" for unwanted people in Cape Town.
Set up in the Cape Flats settlement of Delft, primarily to stifle
illegal invasions of newly constructed houses in the N2 Gateway Project,
it has seen the resettlement of other people who have been relocated or
evicted, including squatters ousted from Salt River's derelict Junction
Tensions were stirred when refugees displaced by xenophobic violence and
held at the Blue Waters refugee camp were recently moved to the site.
The city's official name for Blikkiesdorp -- named after its 1 300 3m x
6m zinc structures -- is the Symphony Way Temporary Relocation Area. It
is a deceptively soothing name for a sink of poverty, crime and disease.
According to city spokesperson Kylie Hatton, it is one of the Cape
Town's 223 informal settlements. Costing taxpayers R32-million to
construct, Hatton said it is expected to grow to about 1 600 structures
with a population of about 5 000.
She strenuously denied that it is a depository for the unwanted, saying
"it compares extremely favourably with all the other [settlements] with
respect to services, shelter, environment and density".
"It's an emergency area in terms of a national housing programme for
people in emergency living conditions."
But Warda Jina, among Blikkiesdorp's first residents, disagrees. "This
is just our dumping ground. It was a bad idea to expand the place and
it's getting worse.
"The government said it was temporary accommodation and we'd be moved to
houses. They're lying. We don't know how long we're going to live here
-- maybe 20 years."
Ironically, the shack-dwellers initially faced threats from others who
are even less fortunate who wanted to move into their structures.
"The refugees now have what others want. The same thing happened to us.
People would bang on our windows and threaten to throw us out."
Jina said the refugees have been moved to a place of "crime and drugs
next to the bush of evil" -- a reference to the vast shrub-covered area
surrounding Blikkiesdorp, where she and a friend stumbled across a
murdered child's body.
Blikkiesdorp resident Samsam Ahmad, a Somali refugee who has two small
children, has warned other refugees still living in Blue Waters that
Blikkiesdorp is not a safe alternative. She fears death and cannot sleep.
"We were told we're going to get protection but our lives are in danger.
Every night people knock on our doors and say they want to burn us. My
children's lives are at risk. We don't sleep at night and don't know how
long we will stay here," says Ahmad.
Eddie Swartz, one of 18 members of the community committee, told the
Mail & Guardian that at least 2 500 residents that need medical care and
"most of them are HIV-positive". Swartz also chairs the health committee.
"Things are very critical. Patients get anti-retroviral drugs from the
Delft clinic but they don't have food. We have some help from NGOs but
we need a container with 24-hour healthcare. Patients will die if
there's no ambulance to fetch them," said Swartz.
"We also have a TB problem. We have only three health volunteers. We
know we're not going to get houses but we can't die here. We're not
Charlene May, a Legal Resources Centre attorney, said the LRC was
preparing do legal battle with thecity, which is seeking an order to
evict about 300 refugees still at Blue Waters.
Moving refugees to Blikkiesdorp had been was part of out-of-court
negotiations which were now frozen.
"No one else who was considering moving [to Blikkiesdorp] will move
there now," said May.
Hatton said Blikkiesdorp has access to the Delft Community Health Centre
2,5km away. Residents also received TB and child health care.
South Africa's Poor Targeted by Evictions, Attacks in Advance of 2010
The South African Civil Society Information Service 5 October 2009
Thousands of South Africans are being displaced in preparation for the
2010 World Cup. While Durban completes the finishing touches on its new
stadium, thousands of the city’s poor who live in sprawling informal
settlements are threatened with eviction. On Saturday, an armed gang of
some forty men attacked an informal settlement on Durban’s Kennedy Road,
killing at least two people and destroying thirty shacks.
Democracy Now speaks to two South African activists who are fighting
back. Mazwi Nzimande, president of the Shack Dwellers Movement’s youth
league. He has been displaced by this latest attack and is currently in
hiding. And Reverend Mavuso Mbhekiseni, member of the Rural Network in
The South African Civil Society Information Service
Madisha beats a hasty retreat
CARIEN DU PLESSIS 10 October 2009
COPE MP Willie Madisha had to flee through the back-door because he
feared for his life at a parliamentary public hearing on labour brokers
when his former Cosatu comrades disrupted the gathering.
His experience was shared by a labour broker who left straight after
making his submission to the labour portfolio committee.
Madisha, the former Cosatu president, said he did not dare walk through
the 300-strong crowd in Cosatu T-shirts that had crammed into the stuffy
Ekurhuleni council chamber in Germiston on Wednesday night for fear of
being attacked. "I am not happy. We did not feel safe and this has got
Madisha also said he had a problem with the songs sung by the people
brandishing sticks and vuvuzelas.
"If people come with sticks and songs get sung that they (Cope and the
DA) protect slavery and rape, and must be dealt with, what does that
mean? (It means) kill them," Madisha said at a joint press conference in
the DA's Parktown office in Joburg on Thursday.
Madisha and DA MPs Andrew Louw and Ian Ollis withdrew halfway through
the hearing after they were booed by the crowd when they were
introduced, while ANC and IFP MPs were cheered.
Trade union leaders such as Cosatu president S'dumo Dlamini and National
Union of Metalworkers of SA general secretary Irvin Jim made numerous
requests to workers to keep quiet, but their pleas mostly fell on deaf ears.
Acting committee chairwoman Lusizo Makhubela-Mashele initially denied
that she heard any booing, but later said the booing was "normal".
She said there were police in the chamber and no one had a reason to
Residents demand removal of councillor
Sikho Ntshobane 10 October 2009
IRATE residents from the Lesseyton area are putting pressure on Lukhanji
Municipality to get rid of Ward 27 councillor Nombuyiselo Ndlebe who
they accuse of being arrogant, self-serving and an obstacle to service
delivery in the area.
The Lesseyton area comprises seven villages including Vrigin, Zola,
Ekuphumleni, Engojini, Trust, Thabata and Xhuma.
An estimated 150 residents from the villages embarked on a protest march
to the Lukhanji offices at the Queenstown Town Hall yesterday demanding
the removal of Ndlebe.
The march, observed by a heavy police presence, culminated in the
handing over of a memorandum to Executive Mayor Mzwabantu Dapula who was
accompanied by Municipal Manager Professor Bacela.
Villagers, armed with placards calling for Ndlebe’s removal, sang songs
including “Ndlebe is corrupt, come Zuma come and down with Ndlebe.”
The marchers accused Ndlebe of being a divisive influence in her ward
and that she was allegedly using her position to further her own
Claims were also made that she had given disaster relief emergency
houses to people who had not been on the list.
“No service delivery has taken place in this area since she was voted as
a councillor. Our streets are in a bad condition, there are no RDP
houses. When people need her to help them, she refers them to the
municipal offices in town while government is saying it is trying to
bring development closer to the people,” villagers said.
The Rep has been reliably informed that Ndlebe has reportedly left the
area and is now residing in Mcbride near Whittlesea.
The residents gave the municipality seven days to respond to the
demands, failing which they would reportedly embark on another protest
The Rep was unable to get comment from Ndlebe as she did not answer her
cellphone when contacted by the newspaper.
Dapula said the grievances would be looked into by the council.
He added that the council would only hold another meeting in November
and would therefore be unable to make the seven day deadline, much to
the dismay of the protestors. - By Sikho Ntshobane, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abahlali BaseMjondolo calls for Zuma to intervene
Sapa 7 October 2009
ANC accuse of using Kennedy Road attack to destabilise ABM
DURBAN (Sapa) - A Durban-based shack dwellers' organisation on Wednesday
called on President Jacob Zuma to help resolve tensions that saw two of
its members killed and shacks destroyed.
Abahlali BaseMjondolo (ABM) representatives told journalists in Durban
they were having sleepless nights following recent attacks.
Thabani Ndlovu and Thokozani Mnguni were stabbed and beaten to death,
and scores injured when about 40 men carrying assegais, knobkerries and
guns attacked them at Kennedy Road settlement on September 27.
The settlement was attacked during an ABM youth camp.
"We believe that attacks were carried out by African National Congress
members. We believe that Zuma will be a suitable person to help us
because he is the president of the ANC," said Mazwi Nzimande.
He claimed the attack was an ANC and provincial government attempt to
destabilise ABM, which represented the interests of informal settlement
The government did not take kindly to the fact that ABM was challenging
the recently passed Slums Act in the Constitutional Court, he alleged.
"We will write a formal letter to Zuma because we believe that he can
help us. The provincial leadership of the ANC has not intervened."
The failure of ANC provincial leaders to get involved was an indication
they condoned the attack, he added.
Nzimande said many Kennedy Road residents, including ABM leader Sibu
Zikode were still in hiding.
"We just don't know who is next. We don't know when these people will
attack us again."
Nzimande said the ANC-led government had failed to provide them with
houses since 1994.
"We were shocked to see the ANC announcing that they would build
[athlete] Caster Semenya a house. Thousands of us have been waiting for
houses far too long."
ANC provincial spokeswoman Nomfundo Mcetywa denied the party had failed
to help Kennedy Road residents resolve tensions.
"We have indicated clearly that we want to work with them, but they
don't want to co-operate. We also don't understand why they continue
accusing the ANC because the cops have put it on record that it was a
Mcetywa said ANC deputy provincial chairman and safety MEC Willies
Mchunu had visited Kennedy Road twice after the attack.
"Leaders of Abahlali Basemjondolo have turned down Mchunu's invitation
to meet with them. We really commend Mchunu for the efforts he has
made," Mcetywa said.
Shops looted as Sakhile protests continue
Cathy Mohlahlana 8 October 2009
Sakhile township residents in Mpumalanga have vowed to continue violent
demonstrations until President Jacob Zuma addresses their concerns.
They say they are sick and tired of poor service delivery and corrupt
Residents burnt down a shop and looted three others in the area on
While dozens of residents forced their way into shops, others stood on
They broke down doors, destroyed appliances and stole goods - some
started fighting for the looted stock.
Police had their hands full trying to control unruly crowds as roads
into the township were blockaded.
Police promise zero-tolerance towards Sakhile violence
SABC 8 October 2009
The South African Police Service says they will apply a zero tolerance
approach when it comes to restoring peace in Sakhile township near
Standerton. This comes after angry residents burned down a shop
belonging to a Pakistani national during a funeral service yesterday.
The residents blame the foreign nationals for the death of a man who was
shot dead during the recent service delivery protests. Police
spokesperson Leonard Hlati gave an assurance that the situation is being
monitored by public order police personnel who will not be removed from
the township until the area is declared safe.
Last week, the Mpumalanga residents pronounced that the African National
Congress-led government has failed them. They said 15 years into
democracy their lives have not changed for the better. Residents have
been looting, vandalising and burning council property in protest over
lack of service delivery and alleged corruption by council officials.
At the beginning of this month, Sakhile residents barricaded roads with
burning tyres and stones, preventing entry and exit to and from the
township. The residents demanded that all municipal councillors resign
after the release of a report from an investigation implicating several
officials and councillors in fraud, mal-administration and corruption
Residents protest about poor services in Newcastle
SHARIKA REGCHAND PIETERMARITZBURG BUREAU 8 October 2009
DISGRUNTLED ratepayers in Newcastle, northern KwaZulu-Natal, yesterday
took to the streets in protest over service delivery issues. Clifford
Mkhize, of the Newcastle Residents' Forum, said the march had been well
A memorandum had been handed to the acting mayor, Afzul Rehman, who
indicated that municipal officials would meet community leaders to try
to resolve the grievances.
A batch of electricity bills were also handed to him, as the residents
had complained that they were being overcharged.
Sipho Magudulela, also of the residents' forum, said they were tired of
the "appalling and awful" services offered by the municipality.
"The march follows an outcry from community members over exorbitant
rates, electricity bills and many other service delivery issues, which
have turned the town into a complete mockery," he said.
Magudulela said residents would no longer tolerate discourteous and
degrading service. "Public servants have literally become a menace to
society. Enough is enough, it's time communities regain respect," he said.
Rehman said the protest had come as a surprise as the issues raised had
previously been addressed. "We have addressed most of the issues they
raised, even changing the council's policy to accommodate them."
He said that while it was conceded that the electricity bills were
exorbitant, the municipality had only charged residents the increase
imposed by Eskom, nothing more.
He said the protesters were from historically advantaged suburbs and he
had never heard of service delivery issues being raised in those areas.
Warwick traders may claim equity
Sinegugu Ndlovu (The Mercury) 8 October 2009
THE developers of a mall planned as part of a development project for
Durban's Warwick Junction have agreed to give informal traders who do
business in the area a slice in the development, but have asked for more
time to consider the exact equity percentage.
The Unicity Informal Sector Forum's working committee, which represents
traders in support of the development, met Warwick Mall (Pty) Ltd
representatives at the Durban City Hall yesterday.
The meeting came after a provincial task team - appointed by Premier
Zweli Mkhize to resolve the dispute between some traders and the city
over the development - recommended that the traders be given shares in
Some traders are opposed to the mall, saying it would put them out of
Working committee chairman Nicholas Zondo said while yesterday's meeting
had been aimed at laying the foundation for negotiations, it had been
successful. He said the possibility of traders getting business and
employment opportunities during and after construction of the
development was discussed.
"They did not oppose our owning equity in the development. We didn't
give them a percentage... They said they needed more time to consult
with the rest of the shareholders and we would talk after that," he said.
Warwick Mall co-developer Themba Ngcobo confirmed that the developers
had agreed in principle to give the traders equity in the development.
He said the developers were also willing to establish institutions that
would find ways for the traders to benefit from the development.
Cops concerned by UCT students' march
By Lyndon Khan 7 October 2009
Uniform grey clothing and stark faces, hands and arms smeared with a
mixture of grey clay, characterized a "silent" protest march by a group
of University of Cape Town fine art students to various "colonial" sites
around Cape Town.
Second year student, Haroon Gunn-Salie said they were given a project
that had to be a "socially conscious intervention" in city space on the
"discourse of art".
Yesterday(wed), the march started at the Michaelis School of Fine Art
and went to the grounds of the national art gallery, where the
"painting" of students began. Two students stood on large blocks and
applied the clay mixture to their faces and arms.
They then proceeded to smear the clay onto other students, who left to
line up along the paved pathway directly facing the gallery. They
stopped at a number of "sites of conscience" around Cape Town, standing
in formation, remaining still and silent for 10 minutes at each site.
The group angered some police officers at one of its sites - the Central
police station where Imam Abdullah Haron was murdered in 1969 - when
they saw the students being photographed. The youngsters had placed
their hands behind their heads in an execution style pose. Police
expressed concern at how these photos would be interpreted if published.
Students had planned a march with "site-specific" stops around the CBD.
# This breaking news flash was provided exclusively to www.iol.co.za by
the news desk at our sister title, The Cape Times.
Cosatu members break up meeting
CARIEN DU PLESSIS & Nompumelelo Magwaza 8 October 2009
THE DA and Cope walked out of a public hearing on labour broking in
Germiston last night after it turned into a political rally, flooded by
Cosatu members who booed MPs and shouted "voetsek" to speakers they
Tempers rose as about 300 people crammed into the Ekhuruleni council
Among them were people wearing Cosatu T-shirts who were singing and
chanting and brandishing placards, as well as labour brokers and members
of the public.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, Numsa president Cedric Gcina and its
general secretary Irvin Jim also attended. Jim appealed in vain to
members to be quiet so that the process could "be legitimate".
A very annoyed Cope MP Willie Madisha, the former Cosatu president, bore
the brunt of the crowd's disapproval after Cope and the DA last week
came out in favour of better regulation, rather than a ban of labour
DA MP Ian Ollis walked out with Madisha after an hour of chaos during
which parliamentary staff struggled to bring proceedings under control.
At Isipingo, yesterday, workers from Edcon spent the entire day picketing.
Addressing workers outside the premises, Numsa provincial spokesman
Sibongiseni Myezi said the workers should fight against the exploitation
taking place in their workplaces.
"We would be happy if the unions help us understand our rights and also
help us get permanent jobs," said an employee.
Myeza said a public hearing on labour broking would be held at the
Winston Churchill Hall in Pietermaritzburg at 5pm today.
Cosatu protests labour brokers countrywide
Sapa 8 October 2009
CO SATU affiliates protested against labour brokering across the country
Cosatu had called for a day of picketing as part of a global worker
protest organised by the International Trade Union Confederation.
“Here in South Africa the focus will be on labour brokering, which
Cosatu has vowed to see outlawed,” the federation said.
National Union of Mineworkers spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said that 1500
of its 3500 branches participated in picketing.
In Johannesburg, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa)
general secretary Irvin Jim attended a lunch- time picket in Wadeville
near Johannesburg, which he said drew 700 workers.
He said the union had held pickets in nearly all provinces.
“I’m extremely happy, for obvious reasons,” said Jim.
However, not all unions were as active in the day’s picketing.
South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) spokesperson Nomusa
Cembi said that to her knowledge only its members in the Western Cape
participated in lunch-time pickets. Sadtu’s leadership did not attempt
to organise nationally. “It was just up to the people in the provinces,”
Some of the protests were reportedly marred by violence. Numsa members
protesting in Isithebe, an industrial area in Durban, smashed windows,
said KwaZulu-Natal police.
“The workers, who were carrying sticks and knobkerries, broke factory
windows and burned objects on the road,” Captain Khephu Ndlovu said.
“Over 1000 workers downed tools . The workers were supposed to picket
during their lunch time but they embarked on a massive march.”
Ndlovu said no arrests had been made. Jim said he had looked into the
matter and denied that Numsa members were engaged in vandalism. “Yes,
members picketed and there was absolutely no violence.”
Unions described the practice of labour brokering as “human trafficking”
Parliament is currently holding hearings on the practice of labour
brokering, with many MPs from the ANC condemning the practice .
However, parliamentarians from the DA and Cope have instead argued that
labour brokering should be self-regulated rather than banned.
“Cosatu is wilfully avoiding the real issues – like the fact that their
ridiculous suggestion of banning labour brokers would place 500000 jobs
in jeopardy,” said MP and DA spokesperson on labour Andrew Louw .
“Instead, they would rather force their members to participate in
insipid activities that will not change anything or help anyone.”
Louw added that banning labour brokering would also hinder government
work. He said that the departments of Agriculture, Communications and
Public Enterprises had said they used labour brokers during
Cosatu’s call for a day of protests and picketing was “a signal that the
union is slowly but surely losing the argument”, said Louw.
Seshoka said that his union would be watching closely the outcome of the
parliamentary debate. “We hope to intensify the action depending on the
outcome of the public hearings,” said Seshoka.
“We cannot overrule the possibility of a complete shutdown of the
economy if our demands for the end of labour brokering are not attended
to.” — Sapa
A cynical protest
Business Day 8 October 2009
GIVEN that a promise to create “decent work” formed a prominent part of
the governing party’s election manifesto earlier in the year — at the
insistence of union federation Cosatu — one might have thought
yesterday’s international World Day for Decent Work would have been an
ideal opportunity for the alliance partners to explain to the people of
SA why the opposite outcome has in fact come to pass.
SA has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs over the past six months, many
of them decent, and the only employment the government has much hope of
stimulating in the coming few months will almost certainly be indecently
temporary, arising either from the public works programme or next year’s
Soccer World Cup. So why is it even contemplating acceding to Cosatu’s
demand for a total ban on labour brokers, which will undoubtedly make it
harder for many unemployed South Africans to find jobs?
The government can hardly be blamed for the fallout from the global
economic crisis, but it should challenge Cosatu on its insistence that
it speaks for all South Africans when it states that if they can’t have
“decent” work — full-time employment with all benefits, from pension
contributions to maternity leave and medical aid — they would rather not
work at all.
President Jacob Zuma clearly needs Cosatu’s political support now, but
it would be a grave mistake to buy that endorsement by caving in to its
ideologically driven demands. Zuma is president of all South Africans,
not just those with formal sector jobs and union membership cards. In
the long run, those who are without work will not thank him for failing
to stand up for their right to choose between “indecent” jobs
facilitated by a labour broker and the ignominy of long-term
unemployment with chronic dependence on a rickety state welfare system.
For all its pretence of solidarity with SA’s unemployed masses, let it
not be forgotten that Cosatu represents a privileged minority — those
with the decent jobs it rightly values so highly. People employed by
labour brokers are nigh on impossible to unionise, hence the unions’
cynical and self- serving insistence on a total ban on the practice.
Cosatu’s private sector membership has been in long-term decline, partly
because of the rise of labour broking, but let there be no doubt: its
cunning plan to reverse the trend and restore its power on the shop
floor is being implemented at the expense of the unemployed.
Zuma would be better advised to lean on new labour director-general
Jimmy Manyi to ensure that existing labour legislation, which should
adequately protect those who find employment through labour brokers, is
applied properly. This is not the time to be experimenting with ill-
considered policy changes motivated by an ally with a hidden agenda.
Metro police sit in to protest against Ngcobo’s reinstatement
Citizen Reporter 7 October 2009
JOHANNESBURG - Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officials
affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) had a sit-in at
their Martindale offices in Johannesburg yesterday – a demonstration of
their rejection of the outcome of a probe into JMPD boss Chris Ngcobo.
Ngcobo officially resumed his duties as the JMPD’s chief on Monday after
a court had cleared him, together with three other JMPD employees, of
corruption charges brought forward by the union earlier this year.
JMPD chairman of the Samwu local Metro police, Ishmael Mangole, said
that the probe into Ngcobo had run smoothly but “the results were cooked”.
“We do not agree with the outcome of the results,” he said.
Mangole said this as disgruntled JMPD officials were waiting for the
city manager or the mayor to address them regarding the issue.“The
workers want Chris to be summoned to a hearing and they will give
evidence against him,” said Mangole.
Samwu, Metro police officials and the city manager are expected to meet
this morning to discuss the matter.
Dbn factory workers protest
Sapa 8 October 2009
DURBAN - Factory workers protesting against labour brokers smashed
windows in a Durban industrial area on Wednesday, KwaZulu-Natal police said.
“The workers who were carrying sticks and knobkerries broke factory
windows and burned objects on the road,” Captain Khephu Ndlovu said.
Ndlovu said the workers had been protesting in Isithebe since 8am.
“Over 1000 workers downed tools this morning Wednesday protesting
against labour brokers. The workers were supposed to picket during their
lunch time but they embarked on a massive march.”
No arrests had been made and police were keeping an eye on the situation.
The march was part of demonstrations organised by the Congress of SA
Trade Unions to demand the banning of labour brokers.
Workers protest in favour of ban on 'labour broking'
Mawande Jack LABOUR CORRESPONDENT 7 October 2009
COSATU affiliate unions demonstrated outside the City Hall in Port
Elizabeth today (October 7) calling all companies in the Nelson Mandela
Bay using labour brokers to do away with the practice that the labour
federation call “modern day slavery.”
The protest coincides with the todays international celebration by
global unions to promote 'decent work' as opposed to 'precarious work',
which South Africa trade unions call labour broking.
Unions protest labour brokering, threaten strikes
Sapa JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA 7 October 2009
Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) affiliates protested
against labour brokering on Wednesday and threatened strikes if the
practice was not ended.
"We hope to intensify the action depending on the outcome of the public
hearings," said National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson Lesiba
"We cannot overrule the possibility of a complete shutdown of the
economy if our demands for the end of labour brokering are not attended to."
Seshoka said that about 1 500 of NUM's 3 500 branches had participated
in the protests.
National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) general secretary
Irvin Jim attended a lunch-time picket of workers in Wadeville near
He said that Numsa had held pickets in most provinces and about 700
people joined the Wadeville protest.
"I'm extremely happy for obvious reasons," said Jim.
However, not all unions were as active in the day's picketing.
South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) spokesperson Nomusa
Cembi said that to her knowledge only its members in the Western Cape
participated in lunch-time pickets.
Sadtu's leadership did not attempt to organise from the national level.
"It was just up the people in the provinces," she said.
Despite the lack of turnout, Cembi said Sadtu supported Cosatu's
position on labour brokers.
"Because we are an affiliate of Cosatu, we do sympathise even if we are
not directly affected," she said.
For Jim, though, the turnout by Numsa workers had been stirring.
"What is inspiring is how ordinary workers are responding ... because
they have realised they will be back into slavery," he said.
Unions have described the practice of labour brokering as "human
trafficking" and "slavery".
"Their practices are the absolute opposite of decent work," said Cosatu
in a statement.
Cosatu had called for a day of picketing as part of a global worker
protest organised by the International Trade Union Confederation.
"Here in South Africa the focus will be on labour brokering, which
Cosatu has vowed to see outlawed," read the statement.
The trade union federation accused labour brokers of undermining unions
by making workers transferable and difficult to organise. It said
employers frequently looked to labour brokers to providing scab labour
to break strikes.
"Labour broker are also basically anti-trade union," Cosatu said.
The Gauteng Alliance -- consisting of the African National Congress, the
South African Communist Party, Cosatu and the South African National
Civic Organisation -- spokesperson Dumisa Ntuli joined in the
condemnation of labour brokers.
"As the alliance, we would like to express our utter contempt in the
manner the labour brokers have undermined workers rights and the labour
legislation in the country," said Ntuli.
"To better regulate [labour brokering] would not work because of
incapacity of labour department to monitor irregularities and
non-compliance," he said. -- Sapa
Labour broker ban ‘will see jobless soar’
Mawande Jack LABOUR CORRESPONDENT 7 October 2009
TEMPORARY employment agencies and labour experts have warned of huge job
losses if trade unions succeed in pushing the government to legislate a
total ban on labour brokers.
Adcorp Holdings chief executive Richard Pike said the number of job
losses should the temporary employment services industry be banned would
be so high that it would make the current spate of retrenchments pale
Affiliates of Cosatu are expected to engage in a countrywide mass
protest today towards a final push to have the industry totally banned,
as in Namibia.
Workers will hold pickets and lunch-hour demonstrations at various
plants in Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape, said National Union of
Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim. He said all
attempts by the union to have the industry regulated “have failed”,
hence the resort to a total ban.
Labour broking in South Africa is a R20-billion industry which provides
temporary jobs to about 500000 assignees a day.
Labour analyst Prof Eddie Webster warned of “unintended consequences” if
the banning of labour brokers took place.
He said the government should first examine how the practice of labour
brokers had been dealt with in other parts of the world.
The Wits University academic will present a paper on “Policy framework
for the progressive realisation of the goal of decent work” today when
the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) celebrates the World Day of
The decent work campaign is part of the International Trade Union
Confederation’s (ITUC’s) efforts towards ending precarious work, which
includes labour broking.
Another labour law consultancy, Andrew Levy and Associates, also warned
of huge unemployment problems if the ban took effect, as the industry
“serves a useful purpose”.
Levy said he was in support of the Confederation of Associations in the
Private Employment Sector (Capes) to have the industry regulated.
Capes spokesman John Botha was adamant that what was at issue was the
lack of effective law enforcement on the part of the Labour Department,
rather than transgressions by labour brokers.
Newcastle ratepayers to protest
Sanelisiwe Shamase 7 October 2009
THE service delivery protests that have plagued municipalities across
the country in recent weeks are far from over.
Today, Newcastle Municipality will be added to the list when fed-up
ratepayers march through the streets in protest over service delivery
Sipho Magudulela of the Newcastle Residents’ Forum said: “This follows
an outcry from community members over exorbitant rates, electricity
bills and many other service delivery issues, which have turned the town
into a complete mockery.”
Chief among their grievances is the issue of rates tariffs. Magudulela
said there were grave concerns about the property valuation process and
the tariffs approved by council are unacceptable.
He said ratepayers are complaining that their rates have increased
remarkably and they are unhappy with the way the municipality
implemented the Municipal Property Rates Act.
Magudulela said the municipality failed to engage with the community
before the implementation of the act, as the law requires, and people
were merely informed of the new tariffs via newspaper notices.
“We told them ratepayers were unhappy with the implementation of the
act, so we asked them to review it. They told us the issue of exorbitant
rates was a debatable one, but they have clearly treated ratepayers and
the law with contempt. There are no records to prove that they have
engaged ratepayers over this,” he said.
He said residents are also reeling over their increased electricity
bills and some may lose their homes as they simply cannot afford to pay
such huge sums for municipal services.
He said people have written letters to the mayor and municipal manager,
and even engaged with them in public meetings, yet nothing has been done
to rectify the problems they face.
Magudulela said the mayor promised to give feedback via a memorandum of
understanding (MOU) before the end of September, but they are still
waiting for written correspondence.
“Gross incompetence is taking place and we have tried everything in the
book to get them to take us seriously but they don’t seem to understand.
Enough is enough. Discourteous and degrading service cannot be tolerated
any longer,” he said.
Acting mayor Afzul Rehman said he has engaged with those responsible for
organising the march on an ongoing basis for months and most of the
issues have been resolved.
He promised further comment yesterday, but failed to respond by the time
of going to print.
The march is scheduled to start at 11 am today at the park opposite the
Mortimer Road Toyota/Engen garage.
PROOF OF CITY OF CAPE TOWN'S SKEWED WATER SERVICE PROVISION REVEALED
Membathisi Mdladlana says poorer residents have to make do with worse
Western Cape ANC 7 October 2009
The City of Cape Town's water complaints helpline logged 555 calls from
Mitchells Plein residents unhappy about water services last month. In
the same period, the helpline received 18 complaints from Sea Point
residents and 26 complaints from the City Bowl.
The number of complaints from Mitchells Plein is believed to represent
the tip of a proverbial iceberg. Many residents of financially-squeezed
communities do not lodge complaints because they cannot afford the cost
of telephone calls and text messages.
According to helpline statistics:
* The Greater Mitchells Plein area, including Philippi, Brown's Farm,
Crossroads and Gugulethu, lodged 1 545 complaints in September 2009
* Greater Helderberg, including Strand, Somerset West, Macassar, Faure
and Durbanville, lodged 684 complaints
* Greater Wynberg, including Retreat, Southfield, Hout Bay, Constantia,
Masiphumelele, Lavender Hill, Muizenburg and Zeekoevlei, lodged 979
The statistics are one of the products of an ANC investigation into
Mitchells Plein water service provision launched last Friday following
allegations by the DA that the ANC was exaggerating the extent of the
water crisis in Mitchells Plein. The DA specifically disputed claims
that families living in Mitchells Village, Tafelsig, have had major
problems with their water supply.
But the ANC investigation revealed endemic problems and a steady stream
of complaints from Mitchells Village since the first houses in the
development were handed over to unhappy beneficiaries in 2008. The Mayor
of Cape Town was met by protestors complaining about the size of their
homes, electricity and water provision when she visited the area to
celebrate the handover of 40 homes in December 2008.
Many of the water-related complaints concerned the installation by the
City of Cape Town of water management devices that have been
inappropriately installed, regularly break down - and are detested by
residents. The water metres are installed outside the homes of people
considered to be indigent. The metres allow residents access to their
allotted 350 litres of free water per household per day, after which
residents are billed normally. Other complaints have related to burst
and/or blocked water pipes, leaking pipes, irregular billing and
Interim ANC Western Cape leader, Minister of Labour, Mr Membathisi
Mdladlana, said: "Cape Town is one of the most divided cities in the
world when it comes to disparities between rich and poor. It stands to
reason that if we want to develop a sustainable city, we must develop a
city that takes care of all its people, rich and poor, black and white.
What we are seeing in Cape Town is that poor residents are expected to
shut up and put up with poor services. For how long are poor people
expected to tolerate such unfairness?"
Mdladlana is convener of the Provincial Task Team deployed by ANC
headquarters to run the party's affairs in Western Cape.
Statement issued by the Western Cape ANC, October 7 2009
Informal settlers protest outside Cape High Court
Regan Thaw 8 October 2009
A group of Symphony Way informal settlers are protesting outside the
Western Cape High Court.
The squatters are fighting an eviction order from the City of Cape Town,
which wants to relocate the community to Blikkiesdorp in Delft.
Singing old liberation songs at the top of their lungs, dozens of
Symphony Way informal settlers appeared to be in optimistic mood.
After months, the squatters finally have a lawyer and as one man put it,
"they are now ready to go to war."
Another woman said all the City of Cape Town wants to do is dump them in
Blikkiesdorp where they feel they will be forgotten.
The city insists this will not be the case, adding that if the community
moves, their chances of getting proper homes will improve.
For over a year, the settlers have refused to move from Symphony Way
after they were evicted from homes they had illegally occupied.
They say they will stay in the area as long as is necessary.
(Edited by Danya Philander)
Cosatu to picket over labour brokers
Sapa 7 October 2009
JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of SA Trade Unions will take to the streets
in a bid to see labour brokers outlawed, it said on Tuesday.
Pickets are planned across the country on Wednesday as part of a global
worker protest organised by the International Trade Union Confederation.
“Here in South Africa the focus will be on labour broking, which Cosatu
has vowed to see outlawed,” the union federation said in a statement.
“Cosatu totally agrees with Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana’s
description of labour broking as ‘a form of human trafficking, and an
extreme form of free market capitalism which reduces workers to
commodities that can be traded for profit as if they were meat or
Parliament’s portfolio committee on labour on Monday began public
hearings on labour brokers.
The Democratic Alliance and Congress of the People last week called for
the establishment of a self-regulatory board in the labour broking
market to curb the abuse of workers. Cosatu rejected this, calling for
an outright ban.
“It is an industry that exists precisely so that client companies can
dodge the existing labour laws and regulations, and hand over
responsibility for the fate of their workers to an outside company, the
“If the industry wanted to regulate itself, as it requests, why has it
not done so already? Because their whole reason for existence is to
promote an unregulated labour market.”
Pickets were scheduled to take place around lunchtime on Wednesday. In
Gauteng they would culminate at the Germiston council chambers where
public hearings on labour brokers would be held.
FINAL PROGRAMME for Workers against labour brokers!
Workers all over the world will be taking to the streets on 7 October
2009 to make the World Day for Decent Work, organised by the
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder has issued a call to action headed “Get
the World to Work” to encourage participation in the worldwide
mobilisation to tackle the global economic and employment crisis and
ensure fundamental reform of the world economy.
Trade unions in every region are gearing up for their 7 October
activities, with organisations from more than 30 countries having
already posted information on their events onto the special website .
Here in South Africa the focus will be on Labour Broking, which COSATU
has vowed to see outlawed. See below for the final updated list of
activities in your area.
Labour brokers are the main drivers of the casualisation of labour.
Their practices are the absolute opposite of decent work. They have
driven down workers’ wages and conditions of employment. They do not
create any jobs but sponge off the labour of others and replace secure
jobs with temporary and casual forms of employment.
COSATU totally agrees with Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana’s
description of labour broking as "a form of human trafficking, and an
extreme form of free market capitalism which reduces workers to
commodities that can be traded for profit as if they were meat or
vegetables. The agenda of labour brokers is pro-employer and anti-trade
unionism. Labour brokers are anti-trade union because they constantly
move workers around from one place to another often with no access to
union officials, with no possibility of stop order deduction for union
COSATU vehemently rejects the call by the unprincipled alliance of COPE,
the DA and Solidarity that labour broking can be dealt with by simply
better regulation. It is an industry that exists precisely so that
client companies can dodge the existing labour laws and regulations, and
hand over responsibility for the fate of their workers to an outside
company – the labour broker. If the industry wanted to regulate itself,
as it requests, why has it not done so already? Because their whole
reason for existence is to promote an unregulated labour market.
The October 7 events will be a vital opportunity to build public support
for the trade union global reform agenda, and remind governments of
their responsibility to govern in the interests of the many instead of
returning to the unregulated free market policies which led to the
Residents protest outside Ekhuruleni Metro Council office
Hundreds of residents of Buhle Park in Germiston have protested outside
the office of the Ekhuruleni Metro Council.
They have handed over a memorandum of demands to the Ekhuruleni council.
They are calling for a local councillor, whom they believe has been
responsible for corruption, to step down.
The protestors took to the streets on Monday morning, burning tyres and
A representative from the Ekhuruleni mayor’s office has promised them a
response in the next seven days.
The demonstrators have since dispersed.
Buhle Park protest under control
Cathy Mohlahlana 7 October 2009
The Ekurhuleni municipality says service delivery protests by hundreds
of residents in Buhle Park on the East Rand are under control.
They blockaded streets and prevented motorists from moving through the
The municipality’s Zweli Dlamini said plans to send officials to the
area were underway.
“We will be dispatching a team to go there and talk to the people about
what’s going on to best sort out what’s going on.”
The Ekurhuleni metro police’s Kobedi Mokheseng said several roads were
affected including Osborne, Nitrogen and Alkaline.
ANC CALLS FOR CALM IN BUHLE PARK
Sapa JOHANNESBURG 5 October 2009
The ANC in Gauteng called for calm in Germiston's Buhle Park on
Monday saying it would consider protesting residents' request to
have a councillor removed.
"The ANC will study the memorandum and will find better ways to
address the issue of the removal of the councillor and the
perceived allegations of corruption and nepotism," a statement
Earlier, residents placed stones and burning tyres along
Osborne, Nitrogen, Kalk and Alkaline streets to grab attention by
stopping the traffic.
They then marched to the council's head office in Germiston to
hand over a memorandum to councillor Gilford Bhaduza.
The African National Congress said the demands, from its ally
the SA National Civics Organisation (Sanco), include the removal or
recall of ward 41 councillor Bernard Nikane, mentioning alleged
nepotism as one of their complaints.
The party said while it was sensitive to the community's
concerns, it also had to weigh up the resultant necessary
"The ANC remain committed to open discussions and engagement
with Sanco as the alliance partner. We will have to take a step to
investigate all the allegations against the councillor."
The party would also pursue the grievances raised in the
memorandum, and wanted proof of the problems to be able to respond
"It is also fair to mention that a lot has been done by the
municipality to improve the lives of the people in the area," said
the ruling party's statement.
Cape Town squatters threaten more protest action
Malungelo Booi 6 October 2009
Heavily armed Cape Town metro police officers are patrolling Lansdowne
Road in Khayelitsha.
This after residents of the BT squatter camp in Site C threatened to
continue protests over service delivery.
They are demanding that the City of Cape Town relocate them to a
serviced site. But it appears as if things are returning to normal and
traffic is now flowing freely under the watchful eye of the police.
Last week, residents barricaded the road with burning tyres and shipping
containers in a bid to gain the attention of city officials.
Residents are demanding to be removed from their current site.
They are also complaining that as long as they have lived in the area,
they have never seen service delivery.
The residents told Eyewitness News they rely on illegal connections to
(Edited by Danya Philander)
Library protest pays off for Khayelitsha learners
Ayanda Mahanjana 6 October 2009
Learners at a Khayelitsha High School say a new library will promote a
culture of reading at the institution.
The school received a library after learners took to the streets earlier
this year, along with colleagues fomr a number of other schools,
demanding more libraries in the area.
A Grade 12 learner at Harry Gwala Senior Secondary, Zandiswa Pali,
believes their library will improve their vocabularies.
“Reading informs your writing, because sometimes you wouldn’t know how
to spell words and when you read, you get to see how a word is spelt. So
it makes your language easier," say Pali.
Principal Gcinisile Mlungu says in the past learners always had problems
when it came to completing projects because of the lack of facilities.
He is hopeful the situation will now change.
How a poor people’s movement was crushed
BOLEKAJA! – Andile Mngxitama (The Sowetan) 6 October 2008
“THE ANC has invaded Kennedy Road. We have been arrested, beaten,
killed, jailed and made homeless by their armed wing.”
These are the distressing words of Sbu Zikode, now in hiding. He is
president of the squatter movement Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM).
The AbM was formed in 2005 in Durban’s Kennedy Road squatter camp. The
people were tired of the empty promises from politicians. They started
to demand and to organise – and now they are being punished.
Last month the youth wing of the AbM was holding a meeting when about 40
armed men attacked them, reportedly shouting “amaMpondo are taking over
Kennedy. Kennedy is for the amaZulu”.
The attack on the poor has now become a tribal one as we wait for the
whirlwind brought about by our “democracy”. The poor will increasingly
be set against each other in the drive for political office and wealth.
The Kennedy attack left at least four people dead and thousands were
forced to flee the settlement. The local ANC then apparently installed
itself as the “sole authentic authority” in Kennedy.
The provincial government and the police appear to be in cahoots with
this violent ANC militia. How else do we explain that those arrested
were AbM members, the very people who have been attacked, their houses
and businesses burnt down?
It is reported that when the police arrived on the scene the marauding
mobs continued their mayhem – without any police intervention.
Clearly, the AbM has become a nuisance. It questions, it exposes and
it’s cheeky. In the last elections they even had the gall to say: “No
land, no houses, no water – no vote!”
The politicians are not going to rest until they have destroyed the
voices of the poor who speak up and speak back.
Real democracy is under attack and we seem to be sleeping through it
all. We can already see the heavy- handed responses of the police
against service delivery protests.
It’s as if our beloved Msholozi is giving his children rubber bullets
instead of the promised land of milk and honey.
The attack on the AbM moved Bishop Rubin Phillip, a friend of the late
Steve Biko and now the Anglican Bishop of KwaZulu-Natal, to say: ‘I was
torn with anguish when I first heard of the unspeakable brutality that
has raged down on to the Kennedy Road shack settlement.
“In recent years I have spent many hours in the Kennedy Road settlement.
I’ve attended meetings, memorials, mass ecumenical prayers and marches.
“I have had the honour of meeting some truly remarkable people in the
settlement and the work of Abahlali baseMjondolo has always nurtured my
faith in the power and dignity of ordinary people. I have seen the best
of our democracy here. I have tasted the joy of real social hope here.”
It is this democracy of the ordinary people that is being murdered by
local politicians, with the active support of the ANC and government.
The excuses by the local police used to justify the ANC takeover are
laughable. They say the violence was caused by the AbM through the
community safety initiatives they undertook, including the curfew on
shebeens to stop trading after 10pm.
The truth is the police were first informed about these initiatives to
curb violence exacerbated by alcohol abuse.
The truth is the poor have to take up their own initiatives after being
abandoned by their government.
Our Movement is under Attack
Press Statement by the Kennedy Road Development Committee, Abahlali
baseMjondolo and the Poor People’s Alliance 06 October 2009
We are under attack. We have been attacked physically with all kinds of
weapons - guns and knives, even a sword. We have been driven from our
homes and our community. The police did nothing to stop the attacks on
us despite our calls for help. Four people were killed. The attacks,
which began on the night of Saturday 26 September, were carried out by
local ANC members together with shebeen owners from the Kennedy Road
settlement. They were saying that our movement was ‘selling them’ to the
AmaMpondo. It is a fact that our movement, at the local branch level and
at the movement level, has no concern for where people were born or
where their ancestors were born. We are a movement of the poor and that
means that we do not make divisions between the poor. We have always
been clear about this. This is our politics and we will stick to it.
We have been told that earlier in the day the local ANC branch had a
meeting. We are told that there they decided to take up a new operation
– Siyabangena (we are entering). We are told that there they decided to
kill Mashumi Figlan, Chairperson of the Kennedy Road Development
Committee (KRDC) and Deputy Chairperson of our movement. We are told
that they decided to cut off his head and leave it in the community hall
so that everyone would see that he was dead and not missing.
When the police did arrive they only came with one car and one van. They
only took statements from our attackers and they arrested eight people
linked to the KRDC. They took no statements from us and to this day none
of our attackers have been arrested. Some of the people that they
arrested had in fact been performing the imfene dance at a public
performance in Claremont on Saturday night. The arrests were clearly
political and aimed at destabilising the movement in Kennedy Road. This
is not the first time that most of the Kennedy Road leadership have been
arrested for clearly political reasons. In 2007 the Kennedy Six, five of
whom were elected members of the KRDC, were arrested on false charges
and only released on bail after a hunger strike. All charges against
them were later dropped because the state had no evidence.
On the morning after the attack ANC officials arrived in the settlement.
There were no police to protect us while we were being attacked but
many, many police came with them. While the police and the officials
were there the same people who had attacked us the night before
demolished our homes and looted them. At least 27 houses were destroyed
and many more were looted. They all belonged to people elected to
positions in the KRDC or AbM. The police did nothing to stop the
destruction of houses and the looting from houses. Supt Glen Nayager and
Ward Councillor Yakoob Baig were personally at Kennedy while our homes
were destroyed. Baig said, on record, that ‘harmony’ has been restored
now that the ‘Abahlali criminals’ were gone.
After the politicians and the police departed from Kennedy Road the
settlement was left in the hands of the local ANC – armed young men
patrolled and made it clear, via death threats, that Abahlali
baseMjondolo was now banned from Kennedy Road. They also made it clear
that independent media were also banned. Looting and various kinds of
intimidation continued. The eviction of some of our leaders and the
arrest of others was followed by the destruction of our office leaving
us without access to email and telephone. When our members arrived from
other settlements to try and save our records and banners in the office
they were threatened with death.
To this day none of our attackers have been arrested. The ANC has
installed them in to authority in Kennedy Road (without holding any
elections) and is presenting them to the media as ‘the community’ or as
‘community representatives’. Many of the ANC leaders who have spoken in
the community or to the media have attacked us and lied about us while
not condemning our attackers. On 28 September Bhekisisa Stalin Mncube,
spokesperson for the Provincial MEC for Safety & Security Willies
Mchunu, sent out a press release on behalf of Mchunu and the Provincial
Police Commissioner Hamilton Ngidi saying that “the provincial
government has moved swiftly to liberate a Durban community (Kennedy
Road)”. Mncube added a note to his email threatening that S’bu Zikode
may soon be arrested. In this statement it is quite clear that at least
some people in the police and the provincial ANC have enthusiastically
endorsed the violent attack on our movement.
Following the attacks on our movement Nigel Gumde, head of housing in
the eThekwini Municipality, has said, on record, that the government
“have a plan to eradicate shacks”, that “anyone coming into informal
settlements must accept that plan” and that it will be necessary to
“jail people to get development going.” He is clearly trying to
criminalise debate about government policy. How can debate about
government policy be banned in a democracy? He has also said that the
imfene dance is part of the problem and must be investigated. How can
the cultural expression of a group of people be considered a problem in
Since then there have been all kinds of other attacks on our movements –
we have been lied about, slandered and defamed by various people within
the ANC. We consider these lies to be a way of trying to justify what
was done to us and to our movement. We consider these lies to be a way
of trying to make the victims of a terrible attack look as if they are
themselves the problem. We consider these lies to be a way to encourage
What happened in Kennedy Road was a coup – a violent replacement of a
democratically elected community organisation. The ANC have taken over
everything that we built in Kennedy Road.
We always allowed free political activity in Kennedy and all settlements
in which AbM candidates have been elected to leadership. Now we are banned.
We do not use violence to build support. We use open discussion. Now we
are violently banned.
Our members continue to receive death threats in and outside of Kennedy
Road. Everyone knows that if you speak for Zikode or AbM in Kennedy Road
you will be attacked. And S’bu has received a number of death threats
and threats to his family, including his children, via anonymous calls
since he was evicted from the settlement by the ANC and shebeen owner’s
mob. Last night five men in a white car arrived at his sister’s place
looking for S’bu and his family. They asked where S’bu and his wife and
children are staying now. We don’t know who they were but they were
The ANC continue to attack Zikode by all means. They say that he doesn’t
follow the ANC code of conduct, that he is stopping development, that he
has a big house in Umhlanga. The first one is true – that is his right.
That is the right of all of us. We make no apology for this. The rest is
just wild defamation.
On Sunday Willies Mchunu, Nigel Gumde and others held a big meeting in
the Kennedy Road Hall. Our attackers were all sitting there. People from
the ANC in Sydenham Heights and the Foreman Road settlement were sitting
there pretending to be from Kennedy Road. All kinds of lies were told.
The Kennedy 8 are currently being held in the Sydenham Police station
and will appear in court again on Thursday. We are told that the ANC is
organising across all wards to get their members to the court to demand
that the Kennedy 8 do not receive bail. This is not the behaviour of an
organisation committed to truth and justice. They should, instead, be
asking for a fair and credible investigation into all the acts of
violence, theft, destruction and intimidation that have occurred. This
is our demand. They should make it their demand too.
At a time when the Kennedy Road settlement is being targeted all the
settlements affiliated to our movement across the country say ‘we are
all Kennedy Road – if Kennedy Road has committed the crime of organising
independently from the ANC and speaking out for justice then we are all
At a time when Abahlali baseMjondolo is under attack all the movements
that we work with in the Poor People’s Alliance, and others too, say ‘we
are all Abahlali baseMjondolo – if Abahlali baseMjondolo has committed
the crime of allowing the poor to organise the poor for justice then we
are all criminals.’
At a time when threats are being made on the life of S’bu Zikode, and
his family (including his children) and when the ANC are waging campaign
of slander and vilification against him we say ‘we are all S’bu Zikode –
if S’bu Zikode has committed the crime of telling the truth about the
lives of the poor and the realities of democracy in South Africa then we
are all criminals.’
We want to make some comments about the ongoing and all out attacks on
S’bu Zikode from the ANC.
We elected S’bu to represent us. He did not want to be our leader. He
never calls himself a leader – people call him a leader. He doesn’t live
in a fancy house and drive a fancy car to talk about the poor on stages
and in hotels. He lives in a shack and works in the community with the
community to give us courage to speak for ourselves. Last year he wanted
to step down from the Presidency of the movement. We mobilised for two
weeks to persuade him to remain as the President.
We know that two weeks before the attack Jackson Gumede, chairperson of
the Branch Executive Committee of the ANC in Ward 25, had said that the
Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) office would soon be an ANC office. We know
that at the same time John Mchunu, chairperson of the ANC in eThekwini
accused us of trying to destabilize the country.
We are not a political party. We have never been a political party. We
are a poor people’s movement – we are looking for justice, not political
power. We have never stood in elections. We don’t even vote because we
don’t care about that kind of power. We care about building the power of
the community to reduce the gap between ordinary people on the one side
and the rich and the politicians on the other side. But the politicians
are ignorant. They don’t know what a social movement is. They don’t
understand that there can be a politics outside of party politics. In
eShowe the IFP recently attacked us for being ANC. When we first started
our movement in Durban in 2005 the ANC attacked us for being IFP. Now
the ANC are claiming that we are COPE. The ANC have seen the huge
support that we have and they fear that S’bu will stand in the local
They also fear us because we have exposed so much corruption in places
like Foreman Road, Motala Heights, Mpola, Siyanda, eShowe and Howick.
They also fear us because we have stood with many other communities who
are opposing injustice, such as people in Umlazi and in eMacambini.
They are embarrassed that shack dwellers, ordinary people like us, took
them to the constitutional court. And the judgment is coming this week.
The sad thing is that if we find that we have won we will have no place
to slaughter a cow.
They see the good relationship that we have developed with city
officials during our long negotiations from late 2007 as a threat. They
see our good relationship with the provincial HOD for housing as a threat.
We are wondering if democracy still exists.
This is not the first time that we have asked ourselves this question.
We asked this question when our march was illegally banned and we were
attacked in Foreman Road in 2005. We asked ourselves this question when
people who challenged the ANC in local government elections in E-Section
of Umlazi were assassinated in 2006. We asked this question in 2006 when
S’bu Zikode and Philani Zungu were arrested, beaten and tortured while
trying to attend a radio interview. We were still asking ourselves this
question when our peaceful march was shot at by the police in 2007.
The ANC is about comradism. It is about order and protocol. You must
follow the mandate and the mandate always comes from above. AbM can just
say ‘No!’. The new ANC committee that have been put in place from in
Kennedy will find that they are just expected to be puppets. They will
find that they are just expected to take orders from above. Zikode had
the strength to take the side of the people. They will not have that
strength. Even they will realise the value of the river when drought comes.
Our movement is growing. When the time is right we will go back to
Kennedy Road. We are prepared to go toe to toe with the ANC but we will
not use violence. We will use open and free discussion on the realities
of our country. We will counter lies with truth. We will counter a
living politics with politician’s politics.
People who belong to prisons must go to prisons. People who belong to
Kennedy must go to Kennedy.
Accusations against the Movement
At a time when we are being attacked our attackers, and those who
support them, should be subject to intense public scrutiny. However the
politicians are doing everything in their power to make us, the victims
of this attack, subject to very critical public scrutiny. The most
incredible lies are being told about us and our movement. At the same
time our attackers are being installed in power in Kennedy Road and
introduced to the media as ‘the community’.
Many accusations have been made against the movement by the ANC in
recent days. Each day new accusations are made. We will address the main
accusations here but we request all journalists to please check with us
before reporting any accusation made by the police or the ANC (or people
presented by the ANC and the police as ‘community representatives’ -
these people may well be the ones that attacked us) as if it were a
fact. We can answer any other questions at the press conference tomorrow.
1. The Safety and Security Committee. It has been said that this is an
illegitimate structure that has no right to exist. The truth is that
this Committee was set up in partnership with the police at the time
when the state stopped criminalising our movement and we were
successfully negotiating with the state on a whole range of demands. One
of our long standing demands has been for equal and fair access to
policing. In the past we were denied this and we were all treated as
criminals. However when the state began to negotiate with us, a process
that began in late 2007, we were able to negotiate with the local police
too. The Committee came out of those talks. The Committee is a
Sub-Committee of the KRDC which is an elected structure. The police were
present at the launch of the Committee. Supt. Glen Nayager was there
personally, and they attended its meetings. Representatives from nearby
settlements that are affiliated to the ANC also attended its meetings
such as Majozi from Quarry Road and Simphiwe from Palmiet. This is all
detailed in our minutes of those meetings, and it can also be attested
to by many witnesses. It was also covered in the local press – for
instance there was an article in The Weekly Gazette of Overport with a
picture of the committee and Supt. Nayager. There is nothing unusual
about an elected community organisation setting up an anti-crime
committee with the police. The government has asked all communities to
do this. In fact on the same day that we were attacked Willies Mchunu
called for a ‘people’s war against crime’. The day after we were
attacked he called the Committee an illegitimate and criminal structure.
This was a lie.
2. The so-called ‘curfew’. It has been said that the Safety & Security
Committee imposed a curfew on the settlement which meant that people
could not watch TV or cook after 7 at night. This is also a lie. The
truth is that the Committee did impose a closing time on shebeens. They
had previously been running 24 hours a day. There had been complaints
about the noise for years and some of the women comrades in our movement
had also argued that alcohol abuse is linked to domestic violence. Also,
in a situation where there are so many fires, alcohol abuse can put the
safety of the whole community at risk. But the main reason for
instituting closing times was that since the national election campaign
there have been ethnic tensions in Kennedy Road, and in other nearby
settlements too. There have been fights and even murders. These fights
were all alcohol related and so for the safety of the community we
thought that it was necessary to put limits on shebeen hours. The police
were present at the meeting where this decision was taken. They
suggested that the closing time should be 8 p.m. We suggested that it
should be 10 p.m. and in the end it was set at 10 p.m. It is true that
the shebeen owners did not like this. But anyone who did not like it
could elect new people with different views on to the KRDC in the next
election in November, or call for an urgent general meeting and see if
there was support to recall the people on the committee and have a new
election or take up the issue with the police. Some of the ANC leaders
have spoken as if setting closing times for shebeens is some sort of
terrible human rights violation that justified the attacks on us. They
speak as though the shebeen owners rather than the people who have been
attacked and driven from their homes are the real victims. They speak as
through the right to drink all night is more important than basic
political freedoms and basic safety.
3. AbM is stopping development. Our movement was formed to struggle for
development. We struggle for development everyday. But development is
not a neutral thing. Some kinds of development are in the interests of
the rich and against the interests of the poor. Therefore our movement
is specifically committed to struggling for development that is in the
interests of the poor. This means that we will oppose a forced removal
from a well located shack close to schools, work, health care and so on
to a ‘transit camp’ (which is really just a government shack) in the
middle of nowhere. This does not make us unique. Poor people’s
organisations across South Africa, like the Western Cape Anti-Eviction
Campaign in Cape Town and the Landless People’s Movement in Johannesburg
take exactly the same position. Poor people’s movements around the world
take the same position. Academics and NGOs around the world take the
same position. Our achievements in the struggle for pro poor development
are a matter of record. In late 2007 the government stopped
criminalising our movement and began to negotiate with us. After more
than a year of negotiations we signed a memorandum of understating with
the eThekwini Municipality in February 2009. That MOU commits the city
to provide services to 14 settlements affiliated to the movement and to
explore the upgrading of three settlements where they currently are in
terms of the government’s 2004 Breaking New Ground (BNG) policy. This
MOU is not a secret – it has been covered in the media and we can make
it available. The MOU is a major break through for pro-poor development
in Kennedy Road, in Durban and in South Africa. It is a major break
through for Kennedy Road because in the late 1980s and early 1990s the
Urban Foundation had agreed to upgrade the settlement where it was and
even started the work – this is when the hall was built. But in 1995 the
then Durban City Council cancelled the upgrade and the plan for Kennedy
Road was changed to forced removal to a human dumping ground. We won the
right to the city for the residents of Kennedy Road. The MOU is also a
major break through for Durban because is commits the City to developing
settlements in the city instead of forcing people out to rural human
dumping grounds. It is a major breakthrough for the country because if
followed up it would be the first time that the BNG policy would
actually have been implemented. Negotiations on implementing this deal
were continuing right up to the attacks and in fact have continued after
the attacks. We have also been negotiating for people who cannot be
included in the upgrade to be voluntarily relocated to Cornubia which,
because it is near Umhlanga Rocks, will have good access to work,
schools, clinics etc. We have worked incredibly hard to achieve all
these victories for the development of the people of Kennedy Road. The
KRDC and AbM signed that MOU. The victory is ours. It came from our
blood (when we were being repressed) and our sweat (when we were
4. AbM has taken the government to court. This is true. We have often
taken the government to court. We have taken the government to court to
protect our basic political freedoms such as the right to march, we have
taken the government to court to prevent them from illegally evicting us
and we have also taken the government to court to have the Slums Act
declared unconstitutional. It is being said that this is an attempt to
stop development. When the Slums Bill came out we read it together, line
by line, and we developed a clear critique of it. We are not alone in
our critique of the Slums Act. The Act has been widely criticised as
anti-poor, even by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Housing and
our actions against it have been widely supported. We have the same
right as everyone else to form opinions about government policy and
legislation and to take our views before the courts for their
consideration. Taking the government to court is a basic democratic
right. It is not a crime – but killing people, chasing people from their
homes and their community, destroying their homes and looting their
goods and using death threats to ban a democratic political organisation
from an area are all crimes.
5. We have travelled overseas. We do not hide anything about these
discussions. 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.
6. We have international support. It is true that we have supporters in
other countries. Most of these people are the same people that supported
the struggle against apartheid. They are supporting our struggle because
our struggle is clearly just. There are also some young people who see
that there is injustice in our world, see that we are standing up for
justice and want to work with us. Some have come to live in our
settlements for a while to see how we make our homemade politics.
7. We Have Money. When we started our movement we had no money. We had
nothing but our will. In recent years we have got a little support,
mostly from churches. We have always refused money when we have felt
that people were trying to buy over movement. We have never been paid to
struggle. We are elected to positions and we serve as volunteers. We
still have to work for a living. Our movement is not professionalised.
The money that we have got in recent years is very small – before the
attack we had an office but the phone was often cut off because we
couldn’t pay the bill. All our records were kept in the office. Anyone
could see them at any time. We also have a list of all the people who
have supported us materially on our website. We note that unlike us the
ANC refuses to be open about its funders.
8. We did not Attend the Meeting at Kennedy on Sunday. Of course we
didn’t attend the meeting at Kennedy on Sunday. We received no proper
invitation to it. And who in their right mind would attend a meeting
after receiving death threats from the same people that would be at the
meeting? Who in their right mind would attend a meeting where the people
who had just destroyed their home would be presented as ‘the community’?
Who in their right mind would attend a meeting where their supporters
would be too scared to attend with them and too scared to speak if they
were there. That meeting was like an ANC rally and it would have been
used as a kangaroo court if we had gone there. There were people there
from Sydenham Heights and Foreman Road who were speaking as if they were
from Kennedy! At this meeting the ANC announced all the victories that
we have struggled for, and worked for over so many years, as if they
were theirs! The ANC has a long history of hi-jacking people’s struggles
and claiming them as their own.
1. There needs to be an immediate restoration of democracy in Kennedy
Road. This includes:
• The right of everyone who was chased out of the settlement or
displaced by the violence to return to the settlement and to be safe in
• The right of Abahlali baseMjondolo to work in the settlement without
fear of attack or intimidation or slander.
• The restoration of our office to us and a guarantee that the office
will be safe.
• The disbanding of the unelected structures that the ANC has instituted
in the settlement and the return to authority of the democratically
elected organisation that was running the settlement before the attacks
or the holding of genuinely free and fair and safe elections in the
settlement. If the democratically elected organisation (the KRDC) that
was displaced in the coup is returned to its rightful place the next
election will be in November.
2. There needs to be a genuinely independent and credible investigation
into the attacks at Kennedy Road (including the demolition of people’s
houses, the looting, the banning of AbM from the settlement and the
ongoing threats to AbM members in and out of the settlement) that
includes an examination of the role played by everyone including the
police, the local ANC and the comments and actions of senior ANC people
in the Municipality and the Province after the attacks. It must include
fairness and justice for the Kennedy 8.
3. There must be compensation and support for those who have been
injured and traumatised, those who have had to flee the settlement,
those whose homes and businesses have been destroyed and those who have
lost everything that they own.
4. There must be a crystal clear commitment from the ANC, from the top
to the bottom, to the right of all people to organise independently of
the ANC, to protest against the ANC, to challenge the ANC’s
understanding of development and to take the ANC government to court.
5. The ANC must make a public commitment backed up with real action to
ensure the safety of S’bu Zikode and all other AbM leaders.
6. There must be genuine and safe negotiation on the way forward between
the ANC and AbM. These negotiations should be mediated by someone that
we all trust. We know that there are many democrats in the ANC and we
hope that they will prevail over those who have cast us as enemies to be
attacked and eradicated by all means. Kangaroo courts are not places for
7. In yesterday’s Isolezwe the Housing MEC said that she will provide
housing for those who have been displaced. We welcome this announcement
but we demand that those who have had their homes destroyed and all
their things stolen should be at the top of the list. This includes S’bu
Zikode, Mashumi Figlan and the KRDC.
Many people have contacted us asking what they can do to support us. 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
iRhini. We are making the following suggestions:
1. Affirm our right to exist and our right to be critical of the government.
2. Organise in support of our demands.
3. Support those of us who have lost their homes and all their
possessions with material support.
4. Support those of us who are traumatised, including the children, with
counselling and spiritual support.
5. Organise serious discussions about the nature of democracy in our
country – and include delegates from poor people’s organisations in
those discussions on the basis of equality.
Contact Details for Further Information and Comment
The Kennedy Road Development Committee
Mzwake Mdlalose: 072 132 8454
Anton Zamisa: 079 380 1759
Bheki Simelane: 078 598 9491
Nokutula Manyawo: 083 949 1379
Abahlali baseMjondolo Leaders from Other Settlements in Durban
Alson Mkhize: 082 760 8429
Shamita Naidoo: 074 315 7962
Mnikelo Ndabankulu: 079 745 0653
Zodwa Nsibande: 082 830 2707
Mazwi Nzimande: 074 222 8601
Ma Shezi: 076 333 9386
The Poor People’s Alliance
Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape – Mzonke Poni: 073 256 2036
The Landless People’s Movement (Gauteng) – Maureen Mnisi: 082 337 4514
The Rural Network (KZN) – Reverend Mavuso: 072 279 2634
The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign – Ashraf Cassiem: 076 186 1408
Council faces legal action: Sewage 'flows in our streets
By AGIZA HLONGWANE and MALIBONGWE MDLETSHE 4 October 2009
Fed-up residents of Ezakheni, KwaZulu-Natal, plan to take their
municipality to court to force it to deal with frequent water outages
and sewage flowing in the streets.
Residents of the township, outside Ladysmith in the north of the
province, have accused the Uthukela District Municipality of violating
the National Water Act and the National Environmental Management Act by
knowingly allowing their water to be polluted. They have approached the
Legal Aid Board to start legal proceedings against the municipality.
Obed Shabangu, founder of the Community-based Environmental Workers'
Trust, said sewage problems and water cuts have persisted for five
years. Complaints and protest marches have been ignored.
"We have now opened cases in Ladysmith, Ezakheni and Colenso. Water is a
national resource. No one has a right to pollute it. That is a crime in
terms of these two acts. It is the municipality's competence to manage
water," he said.
When The Times visited Ezakheni last week, we found faeces,
birth-control pills and condoms flowing out of a faulty sewage pump
station into the nearby Klip River. In the township, children played
next to an overflowing sewage manhole.
Thokozile Mazibuko, 59, who lives metres from a burst manhole, said:
"This always happens. Sometimes it carries on for weeks, even up to a
month. We report it to the municipality, but they just don't come. We
are always sick."
Ladysmith and Ezakheni police confirmed that charges were laid against
the council and the matter was being investigated.
A report, compiled by eMnambithi /Ladysmith local municipality, which
deals with the sewerage system and was leaked to The Times, revealed
that sewage from 26 manholes and a pump station was flowing into local
The report further said the manholes were a health hazard and a danger
to children who may fall in and drown in them.
Uthukela municipal manager Siyabonga Nkehli refused to comment on the
residents' case, saying it was sub-judice. But he accused them of
"abusing" the sewerage system by dumping dead animals, stones and
foetuses in it.
"It is not true that children in Ezakheni are always exposed to these
conditions. If that is the case, definitely we would have experienced a
massive cholera outbreak in the area," he said.
Cops keep an eye on calm Sakhile
Carmen Reddy 4 October 2009
Police remain on standby in the Sakhile township, near Standerton in
Residents in the area staged violent service delivery protests for much
of the past two weeks.
Angry commuters burned down municipal offices, a community centre and a
They also blockaded the township’s streets with rocks and burning tyres.
One man was killed when a group of people looted a store in the area.
The police’s Leonard Hlathi says clean up operations are underway.
Hlathi says the officers will remain in place until a definitive
decision is taken on whether
Earlier this year, residents of Balfour, another township in Mpumalanga,
also went on the rampage for several days.
They too were protesting over the poor services they were receiving from
their local council.
Cops keep an eye on Standerton
STEVEN TAU (The Citizen) 4 October 2009
JOHANNESBURG - The violence-stricken township of Sakhile in Standerton,
Mpumalanga, remained calm at the weekend after service delivery protests
by angry and disgruntled residents last week.
Irate residents barricaded streets and main roads with rocks and burning
They claimed that the findings of an audit revealed that millions of
rands were missing from the local municipality’s coffers and that no one
had accounted for it.
More than 100 residents were arrested for public violence and arson.
Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, police spokesman Captain Leonard
Hlathi said the area remained quiet for the better part of the weekend.
“We are not expecting another round of protests, but we are keeping a
close eye on the area and we will not leave unless it is declared safe,”
Meanwhile, the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) came out in support of
the protest action.
In a statement issued at the weekend, the union said it was extremely
troubled by the actions of the men in blue in relation to the legitimate
industrial and social protests.
“The recent events in Standerton – where police opened deadly fire on
service delivery protesters – is a case in point.
“We are all too familiar with the inadequacies of service delivery and
our members on the ground know and experience the frustration of the
poor,” said Samwu.
Anger flares over delivery
By Staff Reporter and Sapa 4 October 2009, 08:44
Since last Sunday, the people of Sakhile, Mpumalanga, have been engaged
in acts of violence to send out a message: we want attention.
When they did not get attention, they destroyed public property meant to
help them improve their lot. Now they are worse off - and still without
attention from the authorities, except the media and police.
The protests were sparked by an investigation that implicated several
Lekwa municipal officials and councillors in fraud, maladministration
The people of Balfour engaged in similar acts not so long ago. They were
President Jacob Zuma paid them a visit and put a stop to their violent
Only if he could visit all areas affected by service delivery issues.
Now the residents of Sakhile can't even get a provincial minister, nor
even Premier David Mabuza, to pay them a visit.
In their frustration, or even anger, at perceived Lekwa Council management intransigence, they set alight a community development centre which housed a library.
Instead of engaging the enraged, councillors sought cover in the police,
who, in turn, did an overkill, shooting indiscriminately.
Fifteen people were arrested on Thursday after the police had to fire
rubber bullets to disperse angry crowds.
A house belonging to a municipal officer was set alight and the police
responded by arresting 65 people.
This prompted the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and the National
Union of Metal Workers to react with rage.
"Samwu is extremely troubled by the actions of the South African Police
Services (SAPS) in relation to legitimate industrial and social
protests," Samwu general secretary Mthandeki Nhlapo said in a statement.
The National Union of Metal Workers said: "The usage of state apparatus,
particularly police, to silence dissent and brutalise our people is
reminiscent of the old apartheid-style tactics to stagnate popular
change and transformational agenda.
"These protests should not be dismissed as populist or infiltrated by
criminal elements... these protests are [a] wake-up call to the ANC and
its allies to champion a revolutionary agenda as encapsulated in the
As calm seemed to return to Sakhile yesterday, some hoped the community
would have it in them to understand that however angry they might be,
destroying what is meant to improve their lot, like a library, is not,
by any stretch of the imagination, revolutionary.
In fact, it is retrogressive and does not mean the first citizen will
come rushing to put out fires.
This article was originally published on page 3 of The Sunday
Independent on October 04, 2009
Ethnic tension boils over
NIREN TOLSI 3 October 2009
On Monday at 5am Lindela Figlan, huddling with his wife and
three-year-old daughter near a bus shelter in Sydenham, Durban, was too
terrified to flag down the passing taxis.
During the previous two nights the Kennedy Road informal settlement had
been racked by mob violence that resulted in two confirmed deaths and
several shacks destroyed. More than 1000 people are estimated to have
fled the settlement, fearing for their lives.
"I recognised some of the guys in the mob as taxi drivers, so I wasn't
sure whether to take one in case they knew who I was," said Figlan. As
chairperson of the Kennedy Road Development Committee (KRDC) and
vice-president of the Abahlali baseMjondolo (ABM) shackdweller movement,
he had initially sought refuge in an apartment block near Kennedy Road.
When he received word that the vigilantes knew of his whereabouts, he
ventured out into the rainy early morning with his family, flailing
around for an escape route to safety.
According to eyewitnesses, at around 11.30pm on Saturday September 26,
the mob had surrounded the community hall at Kennedy Road where the
ABM's youth league was holding an all-night political camp. The
30-strong mob, armed with bush knives, sticks, sjamboks and guns, had
demanded to see Figlan and ABM president Sbu Zikode.
"They told us that they wanted Sbu because they wanted to know why he
was selling Kennedy Road to the amaPondo," said Zodwa Nsibande, ABM
youth league general secretary. "They kept saying Kennedy Road is for
the amaZulu, not for the amaPondo," she added.
Nsibande said the nearby Sydenham police did not respond to calls for
help: "They told us there were no vans available; there was just one
crime intelligence officer who was also trying to call the police."
Police deny this.
"We finally managed to escape through the windows of the hall and [20
youth leaders] got into [ABM member] MaKhumalo's kombi and left for the
various settlements at about 2.30am," said Nsibande.
The mob is alleged to have rampaged through the settlement, with the
weekend's violence claiming the lives of Mthokozisi Ndlovu and Ndumiso
Mnguni. There are unconfirmed reports of more deaths and missing people.
Eight people, alleged to be part of a safety and security forum
affiliated to the KRDC, were arrested and charged with murder and
attempted murder. The case was remanded until October 8.
Figlan remembers being warned on Saturday evening that his life was in
danger if he slept in Kennedy Road. Padlocking his shack from the
outside to give the impression he was elsewhere, he'd then clambered in
to sleep with his family.
"I couldn't really sleep and at one point I heard people banging on my
door, saying, 'Where is the imfengu; we want to kill him. We want to
kill the bloody Pondo ... I had to put my hand over my baby's mouth to
stop her crying out and letting them know we were inside," he said.
Zikode's shack was one of several looted and destroyed, with people
taking bush knives to appliances, walls and the roof.
Residents of Kennedy Road say ethnic tension in the settlement has been
simmering for a while and had heightened ahead of April's general election.
There is also a growing perception of a Cope-ANC split along ethnic
lines in the settlement, with the amaXhosa and amaPondo seen as
supporting Cope and the amaZulu considered ANC supporters.
Zama Ntuli (not her real name), an unemployed 21-year-old single mother
who cares for her two younger sisters (aged seven and 14), her deceased
sister's two sons (aged 16 and 11) and her own five-year-old daughter,
said they, as Zulus, were traumatised: "On Sunday morning, we saw the
dead body of our neighbour, and people were telling us that the amaPondo
were coming for us. So we ran away and slept in the bush."
The provincial government denies that there is an ethnic element to the
tension and killings. KwaZulu-Natal safety and security MEC Willies
Mchunu said that he believed the "underlying cause for the violence was
criminal, but if people feel there is an element of [ethnic conflict] we
will take this very seriously and try to deal with it".
Zikode maintains that the ANC is capitalising on the tension in Kennedy
Road to disembowel the ABM -- one of the largest social movements in the
country with more than 20 000 members.
The ANC is also smarting, said Zikode, because the "poor shack dwellers
had dared to take government to the Constitutional Court over the KZN
"In our fights against evictions and for housing in the city, we have
been exposing government corruption in areas like Siyanda; we have been
doing the job of an opposition party -- even though we are not -- and
the ANC does not like this," said Zikode.
Two weeks earlier, eThekwini regional chairperson John Mchunu,
addressing the ANC's regional general council, had specifically
condemned the ABM for trying to divide the tripartite alliance: "The
element of these NGO [sic] who are funded by the West to destabilise us;
these elements use all forms of media and poor people.
"We know them very well; we have seen them using their power at Abahlali
An ANC source confirmed there "was a battle for the hearts and minds of
the people of Kennedy Road ... There is a political twist to this thing."
When told of Mchunu's utterances, Zikode cited a recent memorandum of
understanding signed between the ABM and the eThekwini municipality to
look into in situ upgrades of 14 informal settlements in which the ABM
was active -- including Kennedy Road -- as evidence that the movement
was willing to work with government.
"The ANC at this local level is worried because we don't tolerate
corruption and want to be involved in the development of our communities
so that things like shoddy workmanship, fraudulent housing allocations,
corrupt tender procedures and the stealing of cement does not happen.
"This goes against how the ANC appears to do business when it comes to
low-cost housing developments," he said.
Violent Attacks on Social Movement Abahlali baseMjondolo Misrepresented
The South African Civil Society Information Service 2 October 2009
The leadership, rank and file of social movement Abahlali baseMjondolo
have been violently threatened, attacked and forced to leave the Kennedy
Road informal settlement in Durban.
According to a statement released by the social movement, the attacks
started on Saturday night 26 September 2009 when "a group of about 40
men heavily armed with guns, bush knives and even a sword attacked the
KRDC (Kennedy Road Development Committee) near the Abahlali baseMjondolo office in the Kennedy Road settlement. The movement was holding an all night camp for the Youth League...The men who attacked were shouting: 'The AmaMpondo are taking over Kennedy. Kennedy is for the AmaZulu'.”
Four people have lost their lives as a result of these attacks.
Abahlali allege police complicity in the attacks, they say, "Sydenham
police were called but they did not come. They said that they had no
vans but they didn't radio their vans to come. This has led some people
to conclude that this was a carefully planned attack on the movement and
that the police knew in advance that it had been planned and stayed away
While the attacks have been, in the main, portrayed as "ethnic
violence," it appears that there are other sinister forces at play. The
social movement is subject to ongoing harassment from local ANC leaders
because of its non-partisan, non-ethnic, progressive and participatory
In a statement released a day after the attack was launched, Abahlali state:
"There are now senior ANC leaders in the Kennedy Road Community Hall. In
their presence the homes of the elected Kennedy Road leadership continue
to be demolished and burnt by the same small group of well armed people
who have been carrying out attacks with impunity for 23 straight hours.
The police are currently on the scene and are doing nothing to stop the
President of Abahlali baseMjondolo, S'bu Zikode's house was also
demolished and his goods stolen. He personally requested support from
the police but received none.
Human rights groups, activists, academics and religious leaders, have
condemned the attacks on Abahlali.
Bishop Rubin Phillip, Anglican Bishop of Natal and chairman of the
KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council said, "I was torn with anguish when I
first heard of the unspeakable brutality that has raged down on to the
Kennedy Road shack settlement. In recent years I have spent many hours
in the Kennedy Road settlement. I've attended meetings, memorials, mass
ecumenical prayers and marches. I have had the honour of meeting some
truly remarkable people in the settlement and the work of Abahlali
baseMjondolo has always nurtured my faith in the power and dignity of
The attacks on Abahlali baseMjondolo have also been condemned by
international groups and activists.
The London Coalition Against Poverty called for a picket in protest
against the violent attacks on Abahlali outside South Africa House in
Trafalgar Square in London, on 30th September at 6pm.
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