By Abahlali baseMjondolo / @Abahlali_ABM
Just after three this morning the River View Flats in Cato Manor were occupied. Some of the occupiers had previously been evicted from this block of flats and others were from the Marikana Land Occupation, also in Cato Manor.
The security guards stationed at the block of flats tried to prevent the occupation by firing rubber bullets at the occupiers but they were outnumbered and they were not able to stop the occupation. Around fifty people were able to gain occupation of the block flats which was then renamed Amandlethu Village.
The occupation was an act of non-violent civil disobedience against a municipality that is corrupt, criminal and violent, a municipality that, in partnership with the ruling party, brazenly ignores the law and routinely uses violence to try and force its poorest residents to accept their oppression. In this municipality government housing is being used to control the poor, to expel us from the city centre, to force us to accept the control of ruling party and, most of all, to make politicians and their friends rich.
Soon after the flats were successfully occupied the police arrived under the command of the Cato Manor station commander, Mnganga. Mnganga is the same police officer who witnesses insist murdered Nqobile Nzuza on a protest in Cato Manor on 30 September 2013. He has never been arrested despite the public statements by witnesses accusing him of the murder.
The police attacked the occupation violently. We have struggled to get clear information about the exact number of people that have been arrested and the exact details of the injuries that were suffered when the occupation was broken and people arrested. Our most recent information is that twenty people were arrested, 10 women and 10 men. We have also been told that a number of the people who were arrested were injured and are being detained in hospital. However we have not had any contact with any of the people who have been arrested since their arrests. Their phones were immediately confiscated and we have not been allowed to visit them in the holding cells. We have not been given any official information. At the moment we do not know if any of the people that have been arrested have been assaulted or tortured while in police custody.
The comrades who were arrested this morning will appear in Court 10, at the Durban Magistrateâ€™s Court, at 9:00 am. tomorrow morning.
Not long after the occupation was broken up a fire started in Cato Crest section of Cato Manor. Around 45 shacks were burnt. At this point we cannot say for certain how the fire started.
We have declared 2014 as the year of change. We have given notice that we will not accept transit camps, evictions, fires, corruption and repression or the failure to allocate land, provide services and build housing on the basis that puts the needs of people, starting with the worst off, before the interests of politicians and capitalists.
Our struggle continues.
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