South African Poor on ‘Freedom Day’ Mourn 20 Years of Unfreedom

26 April 2014
Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shack Dwellers Movement) press statement

We Mourn Twenty Years of Unfreedom


Twenty years of shack life has not been easy for us.

Twenty years of ANC rule with its evictions, its disconnections, its lies and all its greediness and violence has come to mean an abusive relationship with us. Twenty years after apartheid we live like pigs in the mud, our children die of diarrhœa, we are forced into transit camps at gun point, the police beat and shoot us in the streets and the assassins kill us with impunity. If we stand up and demand that our humanity is recognised we are removed from the housing list and placed on the death list.

We were promised housing but we got evictions, forced removals to rural dumping grounds and transit camps while Jacob Zuma got Nkandla. We were promised jobs but even a job picking rubbish needs an ANC card. We were promised democracy but when we want to be part of discussions and decision making we are taken as a dangerous threat to society. We were promised the rule of law under a Constitution that would respect everyone but from Durban to Cape Town the Municipalities treat the poor as if we are beneath the law. We have seen miners murdered in cold blood in Marikana. We have seen Thembinkosi Qumbelo, Nkululeko Gwala and Nqobile Nzuza murdered in cold blood in Durban. No one is held to account. The truth of our society is that we are people that can be freely killed. No one can deny this.

This is not democracy. It is oppression.

As usual when Freedom Day comes we are lectured about our freedom by people who do not know what it is to make a child sleep with only water in their stomach and who have never been beaten by the police for expressing their views. As usual we are told to accompany politicians and businessmen to the stadiums to cheer our oppressors.

As usual we refuse.

As usual we will be mourning the loss of our freedom to the alliance between the politicians and the rich. As usual we will gather together to insist that shack dwellers and the poor in South Africa deserve real freedom and real democracy. Freedom means that all human creatures must be respected and allowed to live freely. Freedom means that everyone has the right to organize freely and participate in all decision making that affects their lives and their wellbeing. Freedom means that South Africa belongs to all who live in it and that therefore we have a right to this land, a right that is free from eviction by the land invasion units.

Freedom day is celebrated on the 27th of April. Abahlali will hold its Unfreedom Day Rally on Monday, 28 April 2014, at 10am at Siyanda Settlement in KwaMashu. We will use this opportunity to remember our fallen heroes with a special gesture.

We remain committed to a struggle for a world in which everyone counts. We remain committed to a world in which land, cities, wealth and power are shared fairly. We remain committed to our right to organise ourselves and to speak for ourselves.

Next year we will celebrate ten years in struggle. Our struggle will continue until we are really free. Even if the struggle of our parents will have to become the struggle of our children we will not give up.

Please contact:

TJ Ngongoma 084 6139772
Nono Majola 074 8031986
Zandile Nsibande 074 7675706
Mnikelo Ndabankulu 081 2633462


Abahlali baseMjondolo, together with Landless People’s Movement (Gauteng), the Rural Network (KwaZulu-Natal) and the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, is part of the Poor People’s Alliance – a national network of democratic membership based poor people’s movements.

Abahlali baseMjondolo

Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign

To contact Abahlali baseMjondolo in Durban please email abahlalibasemjondolo [at] or phone 031 – 304 6420

To contact Abahlali baseMjondolo in Cape Town please phone Mbongeni Mkaliphi on 076 981 6945, Thobeli Qona on  071 351 8483 or Cindy  Mketana on 076 086 6690

AbM Facebook Group:

AEC Facebook Group:

Abahlali baseMjondolo Solidarity Campaign Network UK

Abahlali baseMjondolo Solidarity Group Namibia

Solidarity with Abahlali baseMjondolo in Italy

Solidarity with the Poor People’s Alliance in Germany

Dear Mandela

Abahlali is also in solidarity with other poor people’s movements including:

The Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign

The Combined Harare Resident’s Association

The London Coalition Against Poverty

The Mandela Park Backyarders

Picture the Homeless

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance

Take Back the Land

Land & Freedom!

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