On Tuesday 22 May 2018 Abahlali baseMjondolo militant S'fiso Ngcobo was assassinated in a land occupation near Durban. Today, Saturday 26 May, death threats, and the presence of armed men, have been reported in an Abahlali baseMjondolo land occupation outside Johannesburg,
Saturday, 26 May 2018
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement
Death Threats by Armed Men Against Leaders in the Zikode Extension Occupation
Today is day 16 of the Zikode Extension Land Occupation on the East Rand, between Boksburg and Germiston. Many of us are sick after 15 nights on the land. Some of us are still carrying wounds from the brutal police assault on 17 May. Our shacks have been repeatedly destroyed and the building materials burnt or confiscated. Cars used to transport the materials to the occupation have been impounded. We are also facing death threats. Armed men, unknown to us, are looking for our leaders.
In many cases people having been living in the shacks that have been demolished. There is no court order authorising these demolitions and they are therefore illegal and criminal acts by the police and the Municipality. The police are also guilty of abuse and assault. On 17 May when they tried to stop us from moving back to the occupation from the Good Hope settlement they attacked us with rubber bullets, tear gas and bricks. People were attacked while they were running away and hiding. A baby in Good Hope had seriously difficulty breathing as a result of the teargas. Babies have died from teargas in Durban and in Palestine. We could have lost this baby too. When a woman fell as she was running from the police Siyambusa Mpolase, our Deputy Secretary, turned back and ran to help her. He was arrested. The police shouted “This is the dog we have been looking for.” They kicked him and beat him with the back of their guns. They then took him to another place, a dark place, in their van. When they got there, they continued to beat him with the back of their guns. After that they took him to the police station.
The police have made it clear to us that they are being instructed to attack us, our homes, and the occupation by Geoffrey Mthembu, the ANC Ward Councillor in the area, and Grant Nkosi, an official from the Gauteng Human Settlements Departments.
ANC leaders in the Good Hope Settlement, including Vusimuzi Geqeza and the Good Hope ANC chairperson Oliver Silele, along with other members of the branch have threatened us. Clear threats have been made against our leaders, including death threats. People in the local ANC have told us that they can pay people to come and kill us. Specific death threats have been made against six of our leaders. On three separate occasions strange men have been asking where they can find Sizwe Mpaxa, our organiser. On Thursday strange men were asking where Luyanda Fitshane, our Deputy Chairperson, stays. This morning three strange men with guns were in Good Hope looking for our chairperson, Mlamli Gomo. They were using a car but we are not sure how many other people were in the car. We have witnesses who can testify to this if they can be given anonymity.
No pro bono law firm has been willing to help us so far. We had to use our own money to get a lawyer for the bail application for Siyambusa. We also used our own money for a lawyer to seek an urgent interdict against the Municipality to stop their illegal evictions. Our application was dismissed on Thursday on the grounds that it was ‘not urgent’. We have also had to use our money to buy and transport building materials after each demolition. If anyone is willing to support the occupation with food or with blankets we would appreciate it.
We are tired and many of us are sick. Our children are staying with relatives and friends and this is painful for us. We are running out of money for food. We are living in fear. Yesterday the rich were celebrating Africa Day. We have nothing to celebrate when impoverished people must still pay for land with blood. The same government that wants to us to celebrate Africa Day is sending the police to shoot us when we occupy unused land.
Our women are very strong. They will not turn back. Even when they are sick and coughing with the flu they don’t want to turn back. S’fiso Ngcobo was fighting for the same struggle as us when he was assassinated in Durban.
Our oppressors don’t want us to be strong. If you raise your voice up, if you organise and act and if they see that you are intelligent they will treat you like a wild animal to be hunted. When we are strong they take us a threat. They promise land but they will not allow us to participate in returning the land to the people. For them democracy does not include people like us. For them our job is to just to obey and to vote.
There is no way that we can go back. If that means that we have to die here then we will die here. We were ready to die when we first occupied the land we remain ready to die.
Nomnikelo Sigenu 073 680 8662
Luyanda Fitshane 073 676 1892