The Shacks of Two Landless People's Movement Activists are Burnt Down in Johannesburg as the Police Look On

On Saturday one Landless People's Movement activist was killed, another seriously injured and many more beaten and arrested in a vicious police attack in the eTwatwa settlement in Johannesburg. Early on Sunday morning the homes of two LPM activists were burnt down as the attack on LPM degenerated into what threatens to become a full fledged ethnic pogrom in the settlement.

There are striking parallels with the attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) in Durban late last year. AbM and LPM have quite different modes of internal organising but work closely together and are both, along with the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign and the Rural Network, part of the Poor People's Alliance. LPM also has links to the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front.

Landless People's Movement eTwatwa
Emergency Press Statement Sunday 30 May 2010

The Homes of Two LPM Leaders are Burnt in eTwatwa as the Police Look On

Early this morning the shacks of two members of the Landless People's Movement (LPM) Executive Committee in eTwatwa, Ekurhuleni, were burnt down.

After the police attacked the LPM yesterday, killing one person and seriously injuring another, David Mathontsi, chairperson of the new LPM branch on eTwatwa, went to the Far East Hospital to visit the wounded. While he was away from his home the supporters of the local ward councillor went to his shack looking for him and his wife. They pointed at his children with a gun. David did not return to his shack and managed to get his children out.

At 2:30 this morning David received a call to say that the councillor's supporters had returned to his shack with the police. David's younger brother was looking after the shack. He was shot at but managed to escape after which the shack was burnt down by the councillor's supporters as the police looked on. David and his family have lost everything that they own.

The group, still with police protection, then burnt down the shack of another member of the LPM Executive Committee in eTwatwa. After that they began to go door to door, still with the police, looking for all the Tsonga people and driving them out. What started as an attack on LPM turned into an attack on all the Tsonga people in the settlement. The attack on LPM turned into a kind of xenophobia. The LPM is not an ethnic organisation and its Executive Committee in eTwatwa is very mixed.

The secretary of the LPM in eTwatwa was arrested. She is an old woman. As the police arrested her they hit her with the butts of their guns and with their boots. They also seriously assaulted the LPM youth as they arrested them.

The leadership of the LPM in eTwatwa are all arrested, in hospital, dead or in hiding.

What is happening in eTwatwa has some clear similarities with the attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo in the Kennedy Road settlement in Durban in September last year.

For more information and comment on the ongoing events in eTwatwa please contact David Mathontsi, Chairperson of the eTwatwa Landless People's Movement on .