11:49 p.m., 29 July 2009
Abahlali baseTumbleweed Press Statement
61 families living in the settlement of Tumbleweed, Howick, have been threatened with imminent, unlawful eviction by the municipality and the local Inkosi.
Today, three armed police officers and a representative of the municipality told the community that they had 24 hours to vacate the area, or an eviction team would return tomorrow and on Friday with bulldozers to demolish their homes. All will be left homeless.
The municipality and the Inkosi have yet to secure a PIE (Prevention of Illegal Evictions Act) notice through the courts, which is required by law. There is no alternative accommodation. They have not conducted meaningful consultation with the community. These evictions and threats of demolition, therefore, are illegal and criminal acts.
It is alleged that the families are to be displaced because the Inkosi sold the land to the Department of Education to build a school. Tumbleweed residents have only recently become aware of this changing of hands in land ownership. The land under their feet has possibly been sold, but the deal was negotiated without talking to the 61 families who will be left homeless as a result.
Abahlali supports the building of schools, and has fought for education for all. Abahlali supports development in the area, and in other communities. But this should be done by engaging and speaking with the community, and in accordance with the law. Not by rendering people homeless illegally. Development should improve and not smash the lives of the poor.
Today, when the municipal representative and the police came to Tumbleweed, they shouted at the community. They told residents they must go, and issued threats on the basis of them being Abahlali members. The Tumbleweed-Howick branch of Abahlali was recently launched, and a community committee has been democratically elected.
The Tumbleweed-Howick branch of Abahlali wishes to state that the community is scared. No one in Tumbleweed will sleep, or sleep well tonight. They are uncertain about their future. They wish to say further that it is unacceptable for police and the municipality to threaten to destroy people’s homes, and to shout at them.
There have been prior evictions in Tumbleweed. In each case, they have carried out unlawfully, without a court order. Among those evicted in the past, some do not have shelter even today.
Abahlali, as a movement, is concerned about ongoing threats of eviction in violation of PIE. Abahalli is also concerned that the municipality and the Inkosi are not prepared to have meaningful engagement with the community. People there do not know their own future, and this should concern everyone.
In Tumbleweed, the Inkosi is seeking to evict his own people. But it is a betrayal when an Inkosi decides to evict his own people.
Abahlali will not tolerate any abuse of power, or abuse of the law.
The people of Tumbleweed urge journalists and those concerned to rush to the scene tomorrow when police and the municipality are expected to return, to see for themselves what happens when an eviction is unlawfully carried out.
Nana 073 583 3444 – Abahlali Tumbleweed (Howick) branch
Kanile 083 498 2207 – Abahlali Tumbleweed (Howick) branch