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South Africa: NUMSA Condemns Attacks on Abahlali Basemjondolo

Statement of solidarity issued by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).

Submitted to Enough is Enough.

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) condemns in the strongest terms the attacks against members of Abahlali baseMjondolo (ABJ). Members of Abahlali were allegedly attacked by Ekurhuleni Metro Police officers at a land occupation site on the 2nd and 3rd of July in Thembisa. According to Abahlali this site has been attacked 12 times since residents occupied the empty piece of land in February this year. Last week an attempt was made on the life of the president of ABJ Sbu Zikode, after his vehicle was allegedly maliciously tampered with.

A fourteen-year-old boy was allegedly throttled and beaten for taking a photograph of the police. One lady was injured after her shack was destroyed while she was still inside it and a piece of zinc sheeting hit her head. A pregnant woman was assaulted by the police, and another woman is in hospital after she collapsed in fear during an attack by the police.

We are also alarmed by the statements which have been made by executive members of the eThekwini Municipality.  According to an online article published by IOL the mayor Zandile Gumede side lined the ABJ movement and accused suggested that the organisation was being manipulated by external forces.NUMSA condemns the ANC-led government for attacking Abahlali and its members. We also condemn officials at eThekwini municipality for making threats against members of the landless peoples’ movement. We view these utterances in a very serious light. It is clear that the state is relentlessly attacking this movement because it is fighting for the rights of the African landless working class majority in our country. It is clear the state views Abahlali as a threat and is using the state security apparatus to attack its members. 

In November last year Sbonelo Mpeku the chairperson of Sisonke Village land occupation in Lamontville was kidnapped and murdered. In December Soyiso Kqayini the Youth League Organiser in eNkanini Land occupation Marianhill was assassinated. In May this year Sifiso Ncgobo the chairperson of the eKukhanyeni Occupation in Marianhill was also assassinated. No arrests have been made in all these cases.

The government has been misleading the public by claiming that it is pursuing a policy of land expropriation without compensation. If they are committed to land redress and justice then why are they attacking, arresting and assaulting the working class and the poor for occupying vacant land? Clearly this is nothing more than political posturing from a dying political organisation which is desperate for votes in the upcoming 2019 elections. 

We call on all our members, our federation SAFTU and our comrades globally to support and defend members of the Landless Peoples Movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo. We will not keep quiet while the ANC-led government leads a vicious attack against the working class and the poor for demanding what is rightfully theirs. We must defend them!

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), July 16, 2018.

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