Urgent Interdict against Municipal Criminality to be Served on the Cape Town City Manager First Thing on Monday Morning

1 06 2009

Sunday, 31 May 2009
Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape
Press Statement

Urgent Interdict against Municipal Criminality to be Served on the Cape Town City Manager First Thing on Monday Morning

The urgent interdict awarded to the Macassar Village Occupation on Friday evening against the ongoing state criminality by the City of Cape Town will be served to the Cape Town City Manager, Achmat Ebrahim, by the Sheriff of the Court first thing on Monday morning.

The interdict prevents the City from demolishing any shacks in the Macassar Village Occupation without an order of the court. It also compels them to return the building material that they have stolen.

Once the interdict has been served any further claims by city officials and politicians that their ongoing demolitions and confiscation of building materials from the Macassar Village Occupation are and have been lawful will be a clear case of deliberate dishonesty.

However we need to be clear that the interdict was binding from the movement that the court issued it on Friday and that the demolitions and confiscation of building materials on Saturday morning were carried out in criminal violation of the law and in contempt of court. The police were presented with a copy of the interdict, and its contents were explained to them by us and then by our lawyer, yet they still went ahead and demolished two shacks and stole building materials in blatant contempt of the interdict. Their response was that they only take instruction from the City Manager and the Mayor. The police are being quite open about the fact that they will follow the orders of their political masters and not the law or the courts. This is rule by decree and not rule by law. The Cape Town City Council appears to remain determined to continue to ignore the rule of law when the law offers some protection to the poor. It seems that they are determined to continue to, instead, implement the arbitrary and violent rule of the rich through the barrel of the guns wielded by the police and the Anti-Land Invasions Unit.

The land at Macassar Village was first occupied on 19 May 2009 and the first demolition happened on 20 May 2009. Since then the occupiers have rebuilt and then had their shacks demolished and building materials stolen again almost every day. However after the demolition and theft of building materials on Saturday morning it was not possible to rebuild as there were no more materials available. They had finally taken everything that we had. The occupiers spent this bitterly cold and wet weekend sleeping on the ground under bits of plastic sheeting. Many of us are now sick.

In 2006 the Tshwane Municipality demolished shacks in Moreleta Park in Pretoria in violation of a court interdict preventing any demolition with out an order of the court. The court responded by ordering (1) the arrest of the Minister of Safety and Security and (2) that the police must themselves rebuild the shacks that they had demolished.( For more information on this case look at chapter two of the 2008 Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions report on housing rights in Durban: Business As Usual?: Housing Rights and ‘Slum Eradication’ in Durban, South Africa.) Perhaps the time has come to approach the courts to seek the arrest of Achmat Ebrahim and Dan Plato as well as the police officers who follow their orders rather than the law? It is certainly clear that someone should be arrested for the crimes committed on Saturday, and every day since 19 May. It is certainly clear that the police have an obligation to return what they have stolen and to rebuild what they have broken.

We will continue to use the courts to discipline the police, and the politicians and officials that give them their orders to protect the colonial order and the rule of money over the lives of the poor. But will also continue to occupy the land in Macassar Village and to build political support for the occupation. As part of this process we are working towards a major march on the City of Cape Town and in defence of the Macassar Village Occupation. Abahlali baseMjondolo now has 15 vibrant branches in Cape Town and we will, working together with our comrades in the Poor People’s Alliance, take the suffering and struggles of the poor into the heart of the territory of the rich – the same territory from which they order the police to attack us.

We have nothing but our will but our will is strong.

Despite the assaults, the arrests, the day to day intimidation, the relentless and criminal demolitions and theft of our building materials in the cold and the rain we remain determined to democratise this city from below.

For more information please contact Mzonke Poni at 073 256 62036.




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