1 October 2009 – AbM Press Release
Friends and comrades
The movement is still under attack in Kennedy Road and the police are still failing to protect us. The settlement is now run by the chairperson of the local ANC branch, Jackson Gumede, and his armed mob. Gumede is asking people to show ANC cards. Senior people in the ANC and the police continue to offer open and public support for the attacks. None of the people that attacked us and destroyed our homes have been arrested. Many of us are still sleeping in the bush and in the streets. There has been another death in hospital.
Our members from across 34 settlements in Durban, and some from other settlements as far away as Cape Town, will soon meet in a secret location. We will formulate a plan of action and draft and issue a full and official press statement.
Right now, in this emergency statement, some things must be cleared up:
1. Willies Mchunu and Hamiliton Ngidi are claiming that Safety Committee set up in Kennedy Road is some sort of illegitmate and sinister ‘forum’. In fact it was set up in partnership with the local police – they were at the launch and attended its meetings. We have the minutes of all these meetings.
2. Willies Mchunu and Hamiliton Ngidi are claiming that the Safety Committee implemented a curfew in the settlement and are implying that this justifies the violence against us, the destruction of our homes and the banning of our movement from the settlement on the pain of death. In fact the Committee decided, together with the local police, to set closing times on the shebeens. They had previously been open 24 hours a day. A decision was taken that they must close at 10 in the evening. There were a number of reasons for this decision – problems with noise, requests from the women’s movement within our movement to reduce shebeen hours due to the link with violence against women, the danger of fires when people are drunk etc. But the main reason was that since Jacob Zuma’s campaign ethnic tensions have been rising in the settlements. There have been fights, even murders. These fights are usually linked to alcohol therefore it was neccessary, in order for the safety of the community, to reduce alcohol abuse. This decision was taken by a sub-committee of an elected body and the police were at the meeting were it was taken. This decision was not a rights violation. Those people who didn’t like it (i.e. the shebeen owners) could have nominated their own candidates with their own mandate for election to the KRDC in November (when the next election was scheduled)
3. The ANC is telling people in the settlement that Abahlali is Cope. This is another lie. We took a No Vote position in the election because all the parties are for the rich and against the poor. Our politics has always been a non-party politics. This is all a matter of public record. But the point is that even if we were COPE (which we arecertainly not) in a democracy you have the right to choose what ever politics you want – irrespective of whether you live in a shack or a house.
We thank everyone for the solidarity rushing to us, and in support for democracy, from around the world.
Rushed (and Rough) Transcript of an Interview (anonymous of course) with Two Young Women Still Living in Kennedy Road
It’s not just demolishing shacks now, it’s moved to full-scale looting. They takes fridges, TV’s etc, and put them in their shacks.
– when people try to ask about who has taken their stuff, the answer is just ‘the community’ took it
– everyone who has been working at the community hall is associated with ‘the forum’. even people who are working at the drop in center.
– no one can enter the hall without being escorted by Jackson Gumede, senior official in the ward and active ANC members
– Another shack was demolished last night because the mob found out that the shack owner was part of the KRDC. they destroyed the shack, are taking people’s possessions.
– We are so angry about attacks on S’bu, S’bu has done so much for this community, the hall was like a bush before, he erected the drop in center. community is going to miss him. for the past fifteen years, ANC has done nothing, he organized so much, send children to school. we are lost without S’bu. we need those leaders like him. i wish he was the councillor. i don’t konw what we’re going to do without him. there’s now no creche to take the children, the mothers are now staying at home to take care of the kids, can’t work. the people to take care of the people with HIV and AIDS, they are after them now, they don’t care what contribution you made to the community but because you’re not ANC, you’re not amongst them…
– Baig is happy that Sbu is gone, he’s not going to expose that Baig is not doing his job properly.
– they promise to bring SAPS, last night the poeple’s shacks were destroyed but the police were parked at the community hall, they don’t even go down to see what’s happening in the informal settlements. they promised to take care of it but right now they are not there. they said they will be there. we are on our own. it’s risky even for them too. i think it’s better if they brought the soldiers.
– the councillor is the one who is working the situation, in other places ANC is doing a good job, here Baig doens’t know how it is to live in informal settleents, he doesn’t know how hard it is to sleep without food in your stomach, he never felt that pain, that’s why he’s acting like this. Our sufferings is his victory. Baig is happy when we suffering. he’s getting paid to oppress us. our government is paying baig to oppress us.
– they are opposing everything that is good about south africa – the constitution, the freedom charter.
– People can’t openly say they are Abahlali in Kennedy.
– She had left a bag with a friend, her friend was asked by other community members to ‘choose sides’ – Cope or ANC. people from the community hall/drop in center are called Cope. Why are you supporting her, they asked. She feels bad for her friend because she’s going to suffer for being her friend. they have been friends for a long time.
We Are All Abahlali Now (Articles from Around the World)Article in Greek: http://athens.indymedia.org/front.php3?lang=el&article_id=1085274 Article in Spanish: http://www.abahlali.org/node/5793 Article in Italian: http://www.abahlali.org/node/5788
Article in English: http://www.occupiedlondon.org/we-are-all-abahlali-now/