*Evictions at gun point continue at the Kennedy Road settlement*

Abahlali baseMjondolo press statement – 14 July 2016

We have faced many evictions in the city of Durban since our movement was
formed in 2005. Almost all these evictions have been violent, unlawful and
criminal.

We have stopped almost all these evictions through organised resistance,
mass protest and action in the courts. When the state has attempted to
change the law to make it easier for them to evict us we have defeated them
in court. In 2009 we won against the “Slums Act” at the Constitutional
Court. Last year we also won against the “blanket order” sought by the
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Human Settlements. The “blanket order” was intended
to authorise mass evictions and to prevent the occupation of at least 1 568
properties in KwaZulu-Natal.

However evictions continue, especially against people who are not
organised. On Friday, 8 July 2016 at about 10:00 a.m. the eThekwini
Municipal Anti-Land Invasion Unit stormed a section of the Kennedy Road
settlement. As always they were armed and they demolished homes without any
notice or eviction order. It was a violent, unlawful and criminal act. Some
families were still inside their shacks when they were demolished. The
Anti-Land Invasion Unit assaulted people and vandalized their belongings
including their furnitures, etc. At least 30 shacks were destroyed.

Some of these shacks had been built by the municipality to accommodate
victims of a shack fire. In 2014 there was a shack fire that destroyed more
than 200 shacks. The municipality refused to allow people to rebuild their
shacks. The municipality took several months to build a ‘transit camp’
(government shacks) as an alternative to self-built shacks. After the
‘transit camp’ was completed there was serious corruption in the
allocation. Some of the government shacks were distributed to wrong people,
while others were sold to people who never had their shacks burnt. As a
result of the corruption in the allocation some of the government shacks
were used as spaza shops while other were rented out.  More than 20 people
whose shacks burnt down did not get the government shacks that were
supposed to be allocated to them. These families were left to live in a
community hall for more than a year.

The eThekwini municipality eventually responded to complaints and protests
by building another ‘transit camp’ along the side of the M19 . However
this
‘transit camp’ did not have enough government shacks to fit everyone who
was still homeless after the 2014 fire. Early this year, after further
complaints, some families were given building material by the municipality
to build for themselves. It is very disturbing that the very same
municipality that gave permission for people to build on this land and
provided the building material is now illegally and violently tearing these
shacks down.

It will be remembered that the Public Protector came to visit the
settlement late last year and was told about corruption in ‘transit camp’
construction. The Public Protector discovered that each government shack in
the ‘transit camp’ was built at the cost of R35 0000 amounting to a total
of R35 million. She was probing these allegations. The building of ‘transit
camps’ has become a big business for people in the ANC and the rampant
corruption in the building and allocation of these government shacks is
used to enrich people in the ruling party and to strengthen the power of
the party against the people.

After the violent and unlawful demolition of shacks last Friday residents
protested. They blockaded the M19 and burnt a municipal motor vehicle. On
the following day, Saturday, a municipal truck and a municipal bus were
burnt on the M19. There were passengers in the bus when it was attacked and
some people were injured.

This protest was not organised by our movement. We do not have members in
that ‘transit camp’. The residents affected by the demolitions organised
the protest independently of any organisation. Our leaders, their families
and other well known members of our movement were driven out of the Kennedy
Road settlement by the ANC, at gunpoint, in 2009. We do still have strong
supporters in the settlement but none of them were affected by the recent
eviction or participated in the protests that followed the eviction.

We have always warned that the anger of the impoverished and oppressed can
go in many directions. We have always insisted that the state must relate
to us in a peaceful and democratic manner. We have always opposed state
violence and criminality. We have always carried out our struggle in a well
organised and non-violent manner.

We support many forms of struggle – including, where necessary, land
occupations and road blockades – but we have always insisted that struggle
must be conducted in an organised and non-violent way. When we organise a
road blockade we will always make sure that no one is threatened or harmed.
We will always allow an ambulance or other emergency vehicle through the
blockade.

We are in solidarity with the residents of Kennedy Road who continue to
face shack fires, who have not been allowed to rebuild their homes after
the 2014 fire, who have been forced into government shacks or have been
denied access to government shacks due to corruption, who have faced
illegal and violent evictions at the hands of a criminal state and who have
been lied to for so many years by Nigel Gumede and the eThekwini
Municipality. We are also in solidarity with the people who were in the bus
when it was attacked on Saturday.

We condemn the violent acts of the state and we condemn the violent act of
the protestor or protestors who threw a petrol bomb at the bus.

If the municipality continues to govern impoverished people in a violent,
unlawful, corrupt and criminal way there will be a risk of more incidents
of this kind. The way forward is for the municipality to learn to
negotiated with impoverished people in a respectful and democratic manner
so that conflicts can be resolved in a just and peaceful way.

We are trying to set up a meeting with the eThekwini municipality that will
be aimed at working out a way forward. We will continue to urge the
eThekwini municipality to deal with communities in a non-violent,
respectful and democratic manner. We will remind them that as Abahlali we
are committed to non-violent and democratic forms of struggle. We will urge
the eThekwini Municipality to respect the laws of this country and to
engage meaningfully and respectfully with communities. We will, once again,
remind the eThekwini Municipality that the anger of the impoverished and
oppressed can go in many directions. We will remind them that unlawful,
corrupt and violent forms of governance cannot move the city towards a just
peace.

Contact:

S’bu Zikode 083 5470 474

Zandile Nsibande 062 947 1947

TJ Ngongoma 084 613 9772

Thapelo Mohapi 062 8925323

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