From Abahlali baseMjondolo – The South African Shackdwellers Movement based in Durban.
The truth remains. The truth frees. The truth cannot be hidden with lies forÂ ever.
For lies to continue to hide the truth they must be constantly sustained andÂ maintained. For truth to be able to emerge from under the lies we have toÂ constantly remember what has really been said and done, by whom and for whatÂ purpose.
We have often said that the attack on ourÂ movement in the Kennedy Road settlementÂ on the 26th andÂ 27th of September last year was planned at a very high political level. ItÂ was planned outside of theÂ KennedyÂ RoadÂ settlement.
The attack took the lives of two people; drove our leaders, their families,Â their friends and comrades out of the Kennedy Road settlement and leftÂ thousands of people homeless and displaced.Â ThirteenÂ people were arrestedÂ for the crime that was planned after several meetingsÂ of the ANC structures in and outside the settlement. Eight months later fiveÂ of those people remain inÂ Westville prison without bail and without any evidence being brought againstÂ them.
We have warned that some of the people of Kennedy Road were made to beÂ involved in the attack by turning their anger on their own brothers andÂ sisters. This is something that happened elsewhere in the country in MayÂ 2008. It isÂ nowÂ happening inÂ eTwatwa. The residents of KennedyÂ Road who joined this attack had no idea of what was really going on, why
they were being made to attack their own neighbours or who their realÂ enemies are. Even those whose lives were lost may not have known the realÂ reasons why they were fighting. The anger and desperation of people wasÂ exploited by those who remoted them to attack their neighbours. Those whoseÂ homes and belongings were destroyed or burnt still cannot explain why theÂ poor were used to attack the poor. It makes no sense for any one of us. ItÂ only makes sense for those who wish to divide the poor.
The South African Police ServicesÂ (SAPS) and the Metro Police were at the scene during the attack and can alsoÂ not explain how they were remoted by the political authorities thatÂ instructed them which lives to protect and which lives not to protect. TheyÂ must have feared to lose their jobs if they acted justly and lawfully.
For a long time now the Kennedy Road DevelopmentÂ Committee (KRDC) have beenÂ receiving calls from several individual and groups in theÂ Kennedy Road settlement asking them to return to the settlement.
The people and groups that are demanding the return of the KRDC are sayingÂ that the daily life in the settlement has become very threatening andÂ frustrating without the self organisation of the settlement by and for itsÂ residents. The KRDC were elected by that process of self organisation. SinceÂ the KRDC, as the representatives elected by the self organisation of theÂ poor by the poor and for the poor, were driven from the settlementÂ everything that had been built up and achieved in the settlement has beenÂ butchered. There is no more crÃ¨che. There is no more care for the sick.Â There is no more ability to negotiate with the police and the state for aÂ position of collective strength. The crime rate has increased enormously.Â Kennedy Road has become a settlement of fear and hopeless where there is noÂ law and there is no order.
Willies Mchunu, the MEC for Safety and Security in KwaZulu-Natal, replacedÂ our elected leadership with a Community Policing Forum. But this has notÂ brought safety or security. The community is being abused in many ways.
Once again firesÂ are being used asÂ an excuse to force people into theÂ amatins.Â The eThekwini Municipality is constantlyÂ disconnectingÂ people fromÂ electricity. When people
reconnect the connections areÂ not properly organised and some connections areÂ dangerous. The settlement has returned to darkness and fear.
Like they did in the old days, before we organised ourselves, the SAPS comeÂ to the settlement, kick in peopleâ€™s doors and sometimes steal theirÂ belongings and money.
Once again, like in the past, the politicians are making their emptyÂ promises and disrespecting the people. After the attack Nigel Gumede, theÂ Chairperson of the Housing Portfolio Committee in the eThekwiniÂ Municipality, together with Willies Mchunu, promised that the community willÂ be housed by February 2010. Now Gumede and Mchunu are nowhere to be found.
No one tells the community anything. Once again the people of Kennedy RoadÂ are on their own.
The community has begun to reorganise itself and to remobilise itself. AnÂ underground branch of Abahlali baseMjondolo has been running for sometime.
Recently recruitment to the Abahlali baseMjondolo branch has become moreÂ open. In recent days there have been open discussions about the return ofÂ the KRDC, its families and others who were displaced. The KRDC has raisedÂ the issue of the safety of those who are being asked to return. They haveÂ also insisted that either everyone who was displaced will return or no oneÂ will return. Those who are calling for the return of the KRDC have said thatÂ they have suffered enough and that they will guarantee the safety of theÂ KRDC. A petition calling for the return of the KRDC to the settlement hasÂ been openly circulated in the last two days and more than five hundredÂ people have already signed it. Most of these people are women. They cannotÂ guarantee the behaviour of the few people in the settlement who remain loyalÂ to the local ANC councillor, YakoobÂ Baig,Â and the local chairperson of the Branch Executive Committee of the ANC,Â Jackson Gumede. But they have committed themselves to guarantee the safetyÂ of everyone that they have asked to return. They will not make thisÂ guarantee real with guns and knives. The will make it real with the rightÂ that every mother has to insist on the safety of her home and her family.Â Anyone who plans to attack the KRDC will have to face these women and theÂ strength of their motherliness first.
Along with being the chairperson of the ANC BEC in the area Gumede is aÂ shacklord in the nearby Lacy Road settlement. After the attack he, with theÂ support of Baig and the police, seized control of the settlement. He wasÂ chased out of the Kennedy Road settlement in February this year after theÂ ANC failed to respond to the communityâ€™s needs after the terrible fires inÂ Kennedy Road.
The Abahlali baseMjondolo leadership and the KRDC have agreed and confirmedÂ that that they will return to Kennedy Road this Sunday and hold an open andÂ public meeting with the Kennedy Road community.
We are willing to return to Kennedy Road. The community understands that theÂ attack on our leaders and our movement was a political plot driven fromÂ outside and high up. The history of the truth in this beautiful settlement,Â beautiful because it became the ground of our hope, will not be wiped away.
We believe that the demand for our return is a democratic and legitimate actÂ by the community to express their vote of no confidence in Baig and thoseÂ who are trying to impose their authority in the settlement.
Our return to Kennedy Road on Sunday will be completely different to theÂ violence and hatred that drove us out. We will not come with weapons andÂ division. There is no need for the government to send in the riot squad, theÂ water cannons and their helicopters. We will come with open discussion, withÂ isicathimyia and with prayer. Bishop Dladla from the Zionist ChristianÂ Church, who was able to remain in the settlement after the attack, will openÂ the meeting with prayer. The Dlamini KingÂ Brothers,Â who were also exiled in the attack, will sing at the meeting.
The meeting on Sunday will be shaped by peopleâ€™s discussions. We, as electedÂ leaders, will be guided by those discussions. If those discussions concludeÂ that we should return permanently then we will do so. If it is agree that weÂ should return permanently then the first item that we will have to discussÂ will be to set a date for an election for the 2010 KRDC. The current KRDCÂ were elected for 2009 and then driven from office and their homes inÂ September 2009. Therefore an election needs to be held to elect a KRDC forÂ 2010.
Those few in the settlement who joined the attack on us need not fear ourÂ return. We will not be seeking any revenge. We will not be demandingÂ compensation for our destroyed homes, our stolen goods and our time inÂ exile. We wish to move beyond the tragedy of the poor being remoted toÂ attack the poor and to unite the community behind its self organisation. Our duty is to unite the poor and to demand justice from the rich and from theÂ state. We refuse to be made to fight each other. Those who wish to remainÂ active members of the ANC will be free to do so. We will ask only that theyÂ respect the democratic process in the settlement.
The meeting that has been called for the return of the KRDC and the AbMÂ leadership to the Kennedy Road settlement will be held at 10:00 on Sunday 13Â June 2010 at the Springfield College Sports Ground which is right next toÂ the settlement.
While the rich are in their stadiums waving their flags and watchingÂ football, a game that many of our members play and love, we will be takingÂ forward the responsibility of building the real nation. The nation thatÂ excludes no one, the nation in which everyone counts, the nation in which aÂ shack settlement is a community to be supported and not aÂ slum to be eradicated, a nation inÂ which the self organisation of the poor isÂ recognised as the foundation of our democracy and not a threat to society toÂ be smashed by any means necessary.
The World Cup will go but ourÂ suffering will remain. Any responsible leader has a duty to concentrate onÂ building the power of the people.
The meeting that will be held this Sunday will, as always, be open to all.
The media are welcome to attend.
We also wish to inform the media that yesterday the case of assaultÂ that ZibuyileÂ Ngcobo had laid against NozukoÂ Hulushe was thrown out by theÂ court. Nozuku is the AbM activist who was assaulted by Ngcobo afterÂ insisting, courageously, on her right to organise freely for AbM in theÂ settlement. Nozukuâ€™s case against Ngcobo is going forward.
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