South Africa: For months my husband,S’bu Zikode, has been in grave danger after the threats made by Nelly Nyanisa, a senior member of the ruling party in the eThekwini Municipality, at an open meeting. Nyanisa said that my husband was making the city ‘ungovernable’ and threatened to ‘deal with’ the movement that he is elected to lead. It was also said that the movement, a democratic organisation with more than 50 000 members in Durban, and branches in five provinces, is a ‘third force’.
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.
Leadership of a movement like Abahlali baseMjondolo carries a high price. In 2006 my husband was arrested and severely assaulted in the Sydenham police station while I had to wait outside on the road, in the dark. This arrest and assault came after senior politicians said that the movement was a ‘third force’.
In 2009 while my husband was visiting his mother in Estcourt our home in the Kennedy Road shack settlement was attacked and destroyed by armed members of the ruling party. I was alone at home with our children at the time. This attack came after senior politicians said that Abahlali baseMjondolo was a ‘third force’. After our home was destroyed, along with the homes of many other leaders in the movement, a senior politician announced that the movement had been ‘disbanded’ and that it no longer existed. My husband had to go underground after the attack. For months the whole movement had to organise underground.
Today the movement is much, much bigger than it was in 2009. It has continued to grow despite assassinations in 2013 and 2014, and again this year. The movement is growing so far and so fast because it is a movement for and by the poor. It is a home for the oppressed.
The movement stands for land and freedom, and the dignity of all. It is democratic. This cannot be a threat to anyone who loves justice.
Today my husband is underground again. He is alone in a secret place. I find myself thrown into the wilderness and my family not protected. Life is not normal. Our children have to learn a new life of living without their father. They ask me questions that I do not know how to answer.
I have suffered a lot. I have to ensure that our children are safe at home and school, and to think about my husband’s safety while I can’t get in touch with him. The security of the household is now in my hands.
S’bu Zikode is not only the leader of the movement of the poor. He is also a husband and a father. Just as the communities of Abahlali baseMjondolo need him to come back, we also need him to come back to his family.
Our family members are still expecting the results of the internal investigation from the Municipality into Nyanisa’s words. We will be very happy to get the results of the investigation. We hope that this will free our hearts and bring hope and trust.
I know that the oppressors can try to kill someone or to intimidate them. They have often killed. Our movement moves from funeral to funeral. Intimidation is a daily bread. But they cannot take his gift. If S’bu Zikode did not have a calling from God to lead poor people, our movement would have ended long ago. So many powerful people have tried to break our movement but it has not broken. So many powerful people have tried to destroy my husband but he has continued his work.
It is undeniable that everyone has the right to live in a comfortable environment with their family without being intimidated or threatened by anyone. We know members of the ruling party in this city do not have conscience when they say they will ‘deal with’ someone. Is it wrong to seek the truth and to struggle for the poor? Is it wrong to build communities from the ground up? Is it wrong to insist that the dignity of every person must be respected?
The report of the Moerane Commission of Inquiry has not been released. My husband stood in front of the Commissioner’s crew and he did not fear to expose the corruption and killing against Abahlali leaders. We know this is one of the reasons why the eThekwini Municipality is openly saying they will not work with the Bahlali baseMjondolo organisation.
I hope this will be temporary, not seeing him for now, we cannot hear his voice but the truth is (izihlahla ziyakhuluma).
Psalm 23: 1-6. The words he loved so greatly strengthened him in difficult times.
Sindi Mkhize, September 8, 2018.