29 September 2009
Mary Papayya – Sowetan
Homeless leaders’ homes destroyed
TWO people were killed and shack dwellers have been forced to flee their homes after a mob of 40 men armed with knobkerries, spears and guns attacked homes in the Kennedy Road shack settlement in Durban.
The police said eight people were arrested for the violence that flared up on Saturday. A tuck shop was also burnt down.
Yesterday the leaders of the shack dwellers movement, Abahlali BasemJondolo, and its president, Sbu Zikode, said their homes were attacked and they were “singled out as part of a carefully orchestrated plan”.
“My home was destroyed on Sunday evening. Several of us have been forced to flee the area after receiving death threats. My belongings were also stolen, Zikode said.”
He, said more than 2000 people live in the area and many were fleeing because of the attacks. People “are scared that there will be more attacks and are fleeing the settlement.”
“We were attacked because of claims that we are not ANC supporters and that we want to take over control of the settlement.”
Zikode said other leaders from the Kennedy Road settlement committee were also attacked and their homes damaged. He said the committee had recently imposed a curfew on shebeen operators in the area.
“Crime was high and people were being attacked and killed. We worked with the police to enforce reasonable operating times. This has made some people angry,” Zikode said.
“This is not the first time that our movement has been attacked. The attackers accused us and Zikode of selling the Kennedy Road settlement to amaMpondo,” said committee member Bheki Simelane.
But police have rejected any political motive in the attacks, saying it was criminal. Director Phindile Hadebe said members of the public order policing and crime prevention units were patrolling the area.
“A special task team has been set up to investigate the attacks. We are investigating murder charges ,” she said.
Yesterday MEC for community safety and liaison Willies Mchunu visited the
area and condemned the killings. He called for the disbandment of the Kennedy Road settlement committee.
“It is absurd for anyone to impose an illegal curfew on residents. We want to assure Kennedy Road residents that we are ready to defend their freedoms, including their freedom of association and movement.”
He gave instructions that his department should assist the Kennedy Road residents to talk and solve all problems peacefully.
He added that all criminal activities must be reported to the special task team.