Solidarity: All Charges Against the Kennedy 6 Dropped

28 03 2008

Yesterday all charges against the Kennedy 6 were dropped just over a year after the men were first arrested.

The basic chronology of events is as follows:

The Kennedy 6 were arrested on a clearly trumped up murder charge on 21 March 2007 after a well known criminal died in police custody. While in custody they were assaulted and an attempt was made, by Senior Superintendent Glen Nayager, to force them to chant anti-Abahlali slogans. They refused.

On 31 March, after ten days in detention, they began a hunger strike in Westville prison. While in prison they were visited by Bishop Reuben Phillip.

On 10 April 2007 Abahlali attempted to march on the Sydenham Police Station. This march was illegally banned by a diktat from City Manager Mike Sutcliffe but, after a tense stand off, 14 people presented the memorandum to Nayager.

On 13 April 2007 the Kennedy 6 were released on bail of R5 000 per person and under a de facto apartheid style banning order confining them to rural areas of origin.

On 24 May 2007 the banning order was overturned in a court challenge and they could return home.

On 27 March 2008 all charges against the 6 were dropped before the scheduled trial could begin due to a complete lack of any evidence against them.

Yesterday’s vindication of Abahlali’s insistence that the charges against the 6 were trumped up by Glen Nayager as an attack on the movement means that, without exception, the state has not attempted to prosecute a single one of the many Abahlali baseMjondolo members who have been arrested (and very often assaulted) by the police over the years. Arrest is being systematically abused as a form of extra-judicial punishment for lawful political activities.

A full press release will be discussed, written and issued soon, this is just to get the good news out quickly. The Kennedy 6 would like to express their gratitude to their lawyer Terrance Seery, to Bishop Reuben Philip and everyone in Durban and around the country and around the world who has offered support.

Abahlali stands in full solidarity with Philani Zungu and the comrades from Tongaat who were assaulted and arrested last weekend. They are facing charges related to connecting electricity. Of course no one is being held to account for the relentless plague of fires that are directly consequent to the refusal of the municipality to electrify shack settlements and, in some instances, the active withdrawal of existing connections. A hundred shacks burnt in New Germany last night.

In the meantime any queries can be directed to S’bu Zikode at 0835470474.

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Solidarity: ‘We want delivery, not more promises’ (Mdantsane)

28 03 2008

Daily Dispatch 27/3/2008

‘We want delivery, not more promises’

NOW WALK YOUR TALK, MAYOR: Angry informal settlement residents from Mdantsane protest against a lack of service delivery in front of East London City Hall. Picture: SINO MAJANGAZA

By SINO MAJANGAZA

HUNDREDS of residents from four different settlements last week marched to the East London City Hall in protest against what they called “municipal sabotage”.

About 300 people from NU1, NU2, NU3 and NU10 informal settlements claim there are deliberate attempts to deny them basic services.

With placards reading “Zintle Peter stop playing games with us”, they marched from the North End stadium and down Oxford Street, singing le nto uyenzayo ayilunganga (What you are doing is not right) at the top of their voices. They claim they have been denied access to basic services for far too long, as their settlements have no proper sanitation, running water or electricity. To make it worse, some are getting water and electricity bills for houses that have not yet been built.

Among the marchers was 54-year-old Nowi Gajula, who said she joined the march because she was tired of the life that she and fellow residents of Gqozo village were living.

“I only want a house; I stay in a dilapidated shack,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of the residents, Primrose Ntondini said they had run out of patience.

Ntondini has been staying in Nkomponi informal settlement in NU1 for 18 years. “We never benefited from government’s promise of a better life for all. We are suffering and no one seems to be interested,” she said.

Ntondini accused the municipality of neglecting informal settlements. “We are angry. We want proper living conditions,” she said, adding that the toilets in her area were a health hazard. “Every day we live in fear of getting sick. We are exposed to all sorts of diseases.”

The march came just a month after residents of Gqozo village in NU1 blockaded the Qumza Highway near Yako filling station, blocking traffic coming from East London, to protest over the lack of service delivery.

The angry residents said they expected the municipality to respond to their grievances within 21 days. They said if there was no response within the specified period they would come again.

Luntu Bobo, who accepted a memorandum from the marchers on behalf of Buffalo City Executive Mayor Zintle Peter, promised the marching residents that the city would look at their grievances and respond to them.

Bobo admitted that the pace of service delivery was slow. “But as the municipality we are doing everything we can to better the lives of the people,” he said, begging the marchers to be patient.

“We really understand your pain,” he said. — Mdantsane Dispatch





AEC Press Release: N2 Gateway Residents Committee

27 03 2008
27 March 2008 at 10:30am
LANGA, CAPE TOWN – Angry First Phase N2 Gateway Flats residents from Langa are calling on the media to attend their meeting tonight (27 March 2008) with the development company that funded Thubelisha Homes to build the defective flats they are staying in.
The meeting will take place at the Langa Sports Complex from 6:30pm – 8:30pm.
The N2 Gateway flats residents have been boycotting rent payments since June 2007, after the company failed to repair the massive defects in their flats. These defects included huge cracks in walls, and leaking roofs to the extent that rooms became unliveable and parents had to send their children away to live with extended family members. There was also a problem since the residents moved in, in September 2006 that anybody’s keys could open anyone else’s flats. The company refused to change the locks and the residents were spending a lot of money changing locks and repairing defects on these rental properties.
The Committee has tried to solve the current impasse by suggesting to the company that they pay a committment fee of between R250 and R690 per month for three months, in exchange for which they expect the company to repair all the flats to a liveable standard, and to change the management team. The current management team is useless, according to the N2 Gateway Residents Committee.
However, the company agreed to this in a small meeting but then when it came to reporting back to the community, they announced that they wanted a much higher amount. The community was not prepared to pay this, given that they will also pay back rental arrears once the flats have been repaired.
The N2 Gateway Residents Committee is angered that the company is not taking them seriously. The N2 Gateway Residents Committee has gone out of their way to solve problems that are not their responsibility. The community understood from the glossy newspaper adverts that this national flagship project was providing well built flats that were ready for occupation, and that all the tenants had to do was pay their rent and move in. However they soon saw that once again, the poor were being taken for a ride. As with all other low cost housing projects in the city, the developers made a huge profit by using cheap and substandard building materials and by cutting corners (i.e. not providing individual keys and locks for the flats), thereby showing their disrespect for poor and working class Black citizens.
The N2 Gateway Residents Committee also supports the Joe Slovo community, which is currently appealing against a forced removal court order handed down by Judge Hlophe.
For more information, please call Luthando Ndabambi, N2 Gateway Residents Committee Co-ordinator on 079 8966126




Solidarity: Tent City Residents Evicted, Dwellings Bulldozed (USA)

26 03 2008

by Rockero Tuesday, Mar. 25, 2008 at 10:29 AM
rockero420@yahoo.com (909) 996-1624

Source: Indymedia Los Angeles

Residents of the Ontario encampment who couldn’t prove any affiliation with the city were evicted; those allowed to stay were moved and the site was bulldozed

Tent City Residents ...
eviction_003.jpg, image/jpeg, 2272×1704

ONTARIO – The residents of “Ontario Tent City,” a Bushville formerly home to approximately 400 homeless people, were evicted today and their possessions bulldozed. “I have nowhere to go,” and “I don’t know what I’m gonna do,” were the refrains heard over and over.

The few residents who were allowed to stay were relocated to a lot across the street from the main settlement to allow for “improvements.”

The city government set aside the plot of land, about the size of two city blocks, in October of 2007 in order to provide an alternative to the people that were removed from smaller encampments near the Ontario Museum of History and Art and elsewhere. Since then, awareness of the camp spread through word of mouth and through the reports of print and electronic media. The city provided port-a-potties and trach removal, but the bulk of the resources were provided by volunteers, including church groups, charities, and local activists.

On March 7 however, the city announced that the area would be limited to those who could prove affiliation to the city of Ontario through school records, bills, paystubs, or by having a resident relative vouch for them. Non-Ontarians, they said, would have to leave by March 24.

One area church allowed some inhabitants of the encampment to use the church address so they could get identification with an Ontario address and therefore be eligible to remain, but for most, it was too late.

During the past two weeks, residents have been intimidated into leaving of their own regard. First was the edict declaring the Bushville off-limits to minors. Then came the announcement that prompted a march to city hall: No pets allowed. For many camp-dwellers, their dogs were the only family they had. The city started segregating residents by
assigning different-colored armbands. Many people preferred to leave rather than be so branded.

Tensions ran high, with fights breaking out over the diminishing resources (the city also instituted a permit requirement for any organization wanting to provide food or other goods.) “I’ve been here since it began, and it’s never been like this,” one woman told me yesterday.

By yesterday, about 200 people had left, and spirits were low. Those that remained were hopeful that an injunction being sought by the ACLU to stay the eviction would be granted. Others had lost hope entirely, with several people openly considering throwing themselves in front of passing trains. The residents of the encampment have survived a great deal: tough economic times, family problems, substance abuse and mental health issues, and attacks from right-wing radio hosts John and Ken. But for many people, the eviction represented a breaking point. “We’re homeless, getting kicked out of a homeless camp. How would it make you feel?” a women, near tears, lamented.

At six o’clock this morning, the only light came from a few small campfires and the headlights of the occasional passing car. All was tranquil, but the peace was an uneasy one. Newsvans from Telemundo, KNBC, and KABC were all present, setting up lights and cameras. Those who were already stirring rummaged through their possessions and those that had been abandoned.

“It doesn’t seem like we’re going to have enough time to pack our shit up. Are they really gonna kick us out at eight?”

At four after six, large trucks arrived, depositing trash receptacles on the east, north, and west sides of the camp.

A man wearing a small sign around his neck that read “More Love” saw I had a camera and was jotting down notes. He approached me, identifying himself as David Bush, and asked if I was with the media. He shared with me his efforts to get the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to delay the eviction for at least four hours. “We’re asking people to call them, the city, and the police department.”

Later, volunteers told me that he had only been there the last two weeks, and that he was “stirring up trouble” by going from tent to tent to encourage the inhabitants to resist police efforts to evict them.

At ten after six, a young woman asked me if I had a light. “Sorry,” I said, “I don’t. Are people starting to get worried?” “I’m not,” she replied with confidence. “No. Wherever they take me, that’ll be fine.”

At 6:20 trash trucks moved in to empty the contents of city dumpsters located on the perimeters of the camp. The channel seven news reporter began filming, and the reporter from KNX interviewed Mike Dunlap. I waited for the call from the KPFK newsroom, a representative of which assured me he would call at 6 and again at nine. They never called.

By 6:30 it was already fairly bright out, although the moon was still providing most of the light. More people began to awake. “It’s D-Day. It’s fucking D-Day,” I overheard. Then the first cop showed up. A motorcycle unit, he circled the block, just making his presence known. He was followed by two cruisers at quarter ’til, who split up and make rounds of their own.

The cops began setting up their staging area on an empty lot across the street from the northwest corner. I saw tractors and bulldozers parked just up the street–just out of sight of the residents.

Just after seven o’clock, the police invaded the camp, interrogating people. “What about you? What’s your status today?” “Whose stuff is this?” “Are you staying? You need to move across the street.”

Residents offered little resistance. “We’re leaving,” one woman told them. “My friend just had a heart attack this week. We can’t handle the stress.”

I spoke with a man who was packing up his tent. “My ID says Upland, so I guess I’m heading up to Upland. I’ll park myself right in front of City Hall. They say I’m not their problem, so I’ll go make myself Upland’s problem.”

At 7:10, the first tractors moved in. They started with the northwest corner, plowing piles of peoples’ possessions into the back of a city trash truck. News cameras huddled around, eager for a shot of the action.

Eight AM came and went without much change. There was no sign of the ACLU, who had promised to show to protect peoples’ human rights, and residents didn’t seem surprised that the bulldozing began early. People wearing dark green vests reading “Counseling Team” began making patrols. “Everybody’s sorry, but nobody wants to help,” said a woman after an encounter with them.

The city set up portable awnings just in front of the police staging area with representatives from Mercy House, the agency contracted by the city to “handle” the situation, code enforcement, and the county behavioral health office. I got in line to get my group’s permit to provide food and other resources. Once I got it, I figured I had better get the
“official” side of the story.

I interviewed Jeff Higbee, a detective with the Ontario Police Department who was an “authorized public information officer.” When I asked him to give a brief explanation of what was going on, he gave me the sugar-coated version, detailing all the wonderful things the city was planning on installing for the homeless.

I asked if there were any plans to use force if people resisted or refused to leave. “We’re not planning on using force, or even arresting anyone,” he answered.

When asked if officials from ICE or any other immigration agency were involved in removing people without documents, he denied it.

When asked where the people were supposed to go, he replied that the city was encouraging people to go back to their home cities, and even offered them free rides.

“In 1948, the UN issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 25 says that housing is one of those universal rights. What do you say to the people that say that this eviction is a violation of human rights?”

He denied that anyone’s rights were being violated, pointing out that people were being allowed to stay across the street.

Judy, a representative from Mercy House, invited me to a meeting of charitable organizations and other caregivers to be held on Thursday, April 3rd, at seven PM at First Lutheran Church, located at 203 E G St in Ontario. She said that volunteers and other concerned individuals were encouraged to attend.





Urgent appeal for food aid for Delft roadside

26 03 2008
By Aziz Hartley
Source: Cape Times
25 March 2008

With aid dwindling fast for the more than 300 destitute families squatting next to a Delft main road, the Anti-Eviction Campaign (AEC) has made an urgent appeal for food assistance, particularly for small children.

Available milk and bread was distributed to families, but it was not enough to provide nutritious meals for about 500 children, many of them babies, AEC leader Ashraf Cassiem said yesterday. The 346 families were among about 1 000 evicted from N2 Gateway houses they had illegally occupied.

“The situation is becoming more dire by the day and is aggravated by a shortage of water. Access to four water points was easy until a fence was erected and people got cut off. We have to ask a contracting company on a housing site to let us have some of their water.

“The children are our main concern. Any assistance such as vegetables, fruit and cereals will be welcomed. The situation is bad here, but we try very hard to make things as comfortable as possible. Adults are content, but it is their children they don’t want to see suffer.

“With schools closed for the holidays, we have programmes for children, but there are no resources. Anything will help,” Cassiem said and added that there were about 300 pupils, 60 toddlers and 48 babies.

Wheelchair-bound pensioner Maria Davids said: “We try to make a way for the children to eat before we worry about ourselves. Milk and bread is fine, but children need proper nutrition. We hope and pray all this suffering comes to and end and that we’ll get a proper house. Conditions are a bit better than at the time we were thrown out on the street, but I’m worried what will happen if the rain comes, because the canvas over our heads is full of holes.”

The AEC is to have a follow-up meeting on Wednesday with provincial housing authorities.

Cassiem said the meeting was to get the housing department’s confirmation that the families’ housing subsidy applications had been registered. “We met the department last Tuesday when it undertook to check the names we gave them with that on the list of housing company Thubelisha Homes,” Cassiem said.

Provincial housing department spokesman Vusi Tshose, said: “We did not want all those people to stand in the sun and wait, because it takes time to process more than 200 applications. We agreed that on Wednesday they will return, so that by then the department will be able to say whose subsidy applications had been registered and whose should still be registered.

“If it is found that they have applied for a subsidy, they will be treated the same as all other people who have applied and who are on a list.”

To donate, please click here.





#2 – Pavement children speak from the heart and urge compassion from Lindiwe Sisulu

25 03 2008

Attached you will find a second batch of Letters from the Delft children who are living on the pavement of Symphony Way. Representatives from Delft Symphony are planning to hand over the children’s 42 letters at a meeting with provincial housing officials.  For the first batch, please see the previous article here.

The second batch can be found here:

Also attached, you will find a letter from one of the adult pavement dwellers. She was inspired to write her letter by 8 year old Nikita who was the first child to write a letter to Lindiwe Sisulu.





Media: Kinders skryf briewe vir minister

25 03 2008
UNA CUPIDO
25/03/2008 09:32:25 PM – (SA)
Source: Die Burger

KAAPSTAD. – “As ek slaap in die aand en die wind waai, dan bid ek so hard dat die hokkie nie omwaai nie.”

Nikita Mkwena (9)’n gr.-2 leerder het haar maatjies wat op die sypaadjie van Symphonyweg bly, aangemoedig om briefies aan me. Lindiwe Sisulu, die minister van behuising te stuur, waarin hulle haar vra vir huise.   Foto: TARYN CARR

Nikita Mkwena (9)’n gr.-2 leerder het haar maatjies wat op die sypaadjie van Symphonyweg bly, aangemoedig om briefies aan me. Lindiwe Sisulu, die minister van behuising te stuur, waarin hulle haar vra vir huise. Foto: TARYN CARR

So lui ’n deel van ’n hartroerende smeekbriefie aan die nasionale minister van behuising, me. Lindiwe Sisulu, waarin kinders van gesinne wat op die sypaadjie in Delft bly, haar smeek vir huise.

Tientalle kinders het briewe aan die minister geskryf en hulle gaan dit vandag aan die plaaslike minister van behuising, mnr. Richard Dyanti, oorhandig om aan haar te gee. Read the rest of this entry »