AbM: The Kennedy Eight are now the Kennedy Thirteen

16 10 2009

Thursday, 15 October 2009
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement

There have been five more arrests. The Kennedy Eight are now the Kennedy Thirteen.

None of the people that launched the attack on us in the Kennedy Road settlement have been arrested.None of the people that have systematically destroyed the houses of the entire Kennedy Road Development Committee and all of the Kennedy Road Abahlali baseMjondolo members who hold office in our movement have been arrested.

None of the people who have banned our movement from the Kennedy Road settlement on the pain of violent expulsion from the settlement or death have been arrested.

None of the people who have continued to burn and demolish the houses of our members when they refuse to denounce the movement and show support for the ANC have been arrested.

Democracy has not been restored to Kennedy Road.

The ANC leaders who supported the attack on our movement have not been brought to account by the party.

The ANC continues to create new structures in Kennedy Road which they say are now ‘legitimate structures’. How can the structures that were elected by the people and removed by violence and intimidation now be ‘illegitimate’? How can new structures, imposed by violence and intimidation, be ‘legitimate’?

There was a bail hearing today for the 5 new political prisoners who have now been joined with the Kennedy 8 to form the Kennedy 13. Once again the ANC mobilised its members to attend the court. They sponsored two buses for them to be there to demand the denial of bail.

The ANC denies that the violence in Kennedy Road was political. They say that it is ‘just a criminal matter’. If it is ‘just a criminal matter’ why do they mobilise politically against the Kennedy 13? If it is ‘just a criminal matter’ why do they mobilise politically against our movement? If it is ‘just a criminal matter’ why was Nigel Gumede at the previous court hearing? He is the head of housing in the Municipality, not the head of police.

At the court today we were insulted and we were threatened. An ANC member who lives in a flat in Sydenham Heights said that we are “the filthy shack people”. She said that “by 2014 you will all be gone. ANC members will get houses and Abahlali members will get jail.” She also said that if the Kennedy 13 were given bail then “they will all be killed.”

It was very tense. It was clear that the people that the ANC has bussed in were ready to use violence. They tried to physically prevent us from getting into the court.

All our comrades kept cool and calm. We behaved with dignity

We are looking for ways to support the families of those who are locked up.

Our movement remains under attack. We must clear about the reasons why we are under attack.

We are under attack because with have built a politics of the poor and for the poor outside of party politics.
We are under attack because we have refused to be silent in the face of our own oppression.
We are under attack because we have insisted that we are also people who count.
We are under attack because we have insisted that everyone must count.

We are under attack because we have rejected the idea that forcibly removing us to human dumping grounds outside the cities is ‘delivery’.

We are under attack because we defeated the notorious Slums Act in the battle of ideas and in the highest court in the country.

We are under attack because the deal that we negotiated with the City to provide some services for 14 settlements and to work on upgrades for 3 settlements has shown that the politics of building people’s power does more for the people than the politics of building politician’s power. That politics just gets you evicted. Everyone can see that now.

We are under attack because we have shown that we are serious about our lives and therefore about our movement. We have not given up. In fact our movement is growing.

We know that there are many members of the ANC who are honest and who are democrats. We are calling on the honest and democratic members of the ANC to oppose those who corrupt their movement with lies, intimidation and oppression. Today it is us who have had to face armed mobs and the police. Today it is us who have had to face violence, the destruction of our homes, expulsion from our community, the end of many of things that we have worked for and all kinds of lies. Tomorrow it could be you.

This danger needs to be thought about very seriously. It needs to be widely discussed.
For comment please contact:
Shamita Naidoo 074 315 7962
Mnikelo Ndabankulu 079 745 0653
Mazwi Nzimande 074 222 8601

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