South Africans March with Congolese Refugees Saturday, Die in Shack Fires Sunday

Abahlali baseMjondolo joint press statement with the Durban Congolese refugee community

We do not count to this society and this world. We can be driven from our homes, beaten, tortured and murdered with impunity. We are placed outside of citizenship and even humanity. When we insist on our dignity, when we take our place in the cities and in the discussions and when we resist the violence that constantly rains down on us like an endless storm we are shown to the world as criminals. We are expected to suffer and die in silence. We are expected to leave a world for our children in which their only future is suffering. We are not alone in having to live under this cruelty. In Palestine, in Haiti, in the Congo and in the favelas of Brazil and the gecekondus of Turkey it is the same.

It is our responsibility to build a new politic, a politic that respects the dignity of all people, a politic that restores the land and wealth of the world to the people, a politic in which there are no people that can be freely driven from their homes and freely killed, a politic in which everyone counts.

We have been facing serious repression recently. We have been facing bullets, evictions and lies. But in the middle of this storm we have been having a series of meetings with the Congolese refugee community in Durban surrounding the on-going genocide in the DRC. Abahlali have vowed to stand in solidarity with our comrades here and those that remain facing abuse and butchering in their country. Together we need to understand how it is that in this world so many people’s humanity is not recognised. We also need to understand what we can do to overturn this system that makes some few people rich while the rest are made poor, driven from their land and their homes and turned into some kind of animal that can be freely killed.

We reiterate our position that “unyawo alunampumulo,” a person is a person wherever they come from. The pain of our Congolese comrades is our pain. We call upon ordinary South Africans to stand in solidarity with Congolese as they say to us that they see South Africa as the root of Africa and DRC as the heart of Africa. It is time to expose the complicity of both local and international agents who perpetuate genocide in DRC. It is time to say away with the capitalist monopolies that continue to enrich themselves with the mineral wealth of the DRC. It is time for us to do away with African states that provide the armed force for these capitalist monopolies.

In the same way Abahlali have buried enough of our comrades who have been assassinated for exposing these greedy agents who steal from the public purse. We are saying enough is enough. We shall not keep quiet and watch while our comrades are being murdered by the police or izinkabi that are paid by politicians. It is a disgrace that our lives are being used to exchange money by politicians. Four of our comrades have been killed within a space of 18 months: Thembinkosi Qumbela, Nkululeko Gwala, Nqobile Nzuza and Thuli Ndlovu.

At around 8 o’clock last night Mobeni Khwela an ANC activist working against Nqola’s corruption in KwaNdengezi was gunned down. We extend our deepest condolences to his family. We also have more wounded comrades as a result of these gangsters who are based at the City Hall. Durban’s land invasion unit and the police work under the instruction of these gangsters. The Durban City Hall is running with the blood of the people it should be serving with integrity. Those who pay the izinkabi are welcome in this hall. Yet those who stand for justice are considered as criminals in this hall.

We acknowledge and salute our friends, partners and comrades around the world who are standing in solidarity with us at this trying time. We note with a particular interest the tireless solidarity efforts our comrades in London are demonstrating. Just as others stand with us when we face oppression so too it is our responsibility to stand with others facing oppression.

We will be marching together with our Congolese comrades on Saturday. We have asked the Minister of Police Mr Nkosinathi Nhleko to come and receive our Memorandam regarding assassination and other violent crimes against Abahlali. We have also asked for the MEC for Human Settlements in KZN Mr Ravi Pillay to come and receive our Memorandum on the brazen housing corruption that continues to reign in our province. Our Congolese comrades have asked the DRC Ambassador to South Africa to also come and receive our Memorandum. The Department of International Relations has been also informed of this march and the need to intervene. We hope all these public officials will honour our demands and act accordingly.

Abahlali demand that the death list created in Ward 101 and Ward 12 in Durban and at the high ranking political sphere must be investigated and exposed.

Abahlali demand that gangsters and warlords that hide behind party politic must be exposed and arrested.

Abahlali demand that the politic of blood must be replaced by a genuine politic of negotiation and free organizing outside of state and party control. We demand that the land and wealth of the country must be shared fairly. We demand that as an immediate first step the social value of land must be placed before its commercial value. There must be an end to corruption. The
government must be a servant of the people, not a system to steal from the people and to repress the people in the name of the people.

Our DRC comrades demand peace and sovereignty in DRC. They demand an end to genocide and human right abuses. They demand an end to the balkanisation of the DRC. They also demand an end to all sexual violence against women and children. They reject the DRC Constitution change and demand an end to looting of minerals and other wealth of their country.


Sunday, 9 November 2014
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement

A Shack Fire in the Forman Road shack settlement in Clare Estate, Durban has Claimed Two Lives

Yesterday we had a very successful march, together with our Congolese comrades, against the politic of death. Early this morning two residents of the Foreman Road shack settlement lost their lives in a huge fire. We are the people that can be freely murdered without consequence. We are also the people that are left to live like pigs in the mud and to die in shack fires.

For almost ten years we have been struggling to force the state to take shack fires seriously. We have won many victories over the years but we remain the people that are left to burn. Every time there is a fire the politicians and the police rush to blame us for the fire. They never blame the conditions in which we are forced to live. They never meet with us to work out a way to improve these conditions. We will not rest until we have forced this society to recognise and respect our humanity.

This morning at about 12:30am a fire started in the home of a family in the Foreman Road shack settlement. It is believed to have been caused by a paraffin stove which exploded. The Foreman Road settlement is one of the oldest settlements that has been denied their right to housing by eThekwini municipality. We have won the battle against eviction in this settlement but we have not won the right to decent housing in this settlement. There have been a number of fires in this settlement. It is on a steep hill and when it rains everything is mud. This is how we live, in mud and fire. This is how we have to grow our children.

The settlement falls under ward 25. When the fire started the community was asked by Disaster Management Officials to call on Bhekisani Ngcobo the local councillor. The community replied by saying that they cannot waste their time calling a man of no help like Ngcobo and they handed the number to these officials so they could call him themselves. Ngcobo did as usual by not answering his phone and never visited the settlement till now.

About 33 shacks were burnt down and a couple were burnt into ashes. Some parts of their bodies are still lying unattended as the police could not pick up all their remains while it was dark. The two people that died were Zanele Gavu and Mbongiseni Bhetsile.

We express our condolences to their families. We believe that provision of decent housing, electricity and water and sanitation could have saved these lives. We call upon the Department of Human Settlements to provide all settlements with electricity and other fire prevention measures, as well as drainage, paths and toilets, while permanent homes are constructed in partnership with communities.

Once again we serve notice that we will never accept to be the people whose lives count for nothing. We are well aware of the price that will be paid for this commitment. Some of us will die so that others can live like human beings.


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