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South Africa: Twenty-Nine Brave Women Arrested, Two Settlements Attacked

South Africa. April 10, 2020. Yesterday the KwaMathambo settlement in Redhill and the Burnwood settlement in Clare Estate were both attacked by the eThekwini Municipality and subject to violent eviction. As usual there were no court orders and the evictions were violent and illegal in terms of the both the ordinary law and the lockdown regulations that have placed a moratorium on all evictions. As has become routine since Calvin and Family Security were given the tender to evict a number of people were seriously injured.

Submitted to Enough 14.

KwaMathambo and Burnwood are both long established settlements that the eThekwini Municipality has wanted to ‘eradicate’ for years. KwaMathambo is not affiliated to our movement but we are sharing the information about the attack that took place yesterday at the request of residents there.

Also yesterday, twenty-nine courageous women were arrested in the Azania settlement in Cato Manor. This land was first occupied in February last year. The occupation has come under sustained attack from the eThekwini Municipality since March last year. People have rebuilt after each attack. However armed men from Calvin and Family Security prevented them from rebuilding after the last attack.

Twenty-nine women bravely continued to occupy the land by sleeping on the ground. Yesterday Calvin and Family Security arrested them. Some of them had babies as young as two years with them. The babies were taken with their mothers during the arrest.

The brave women were first told that they were arrested for contravening the national lockdown regulations. This is a joke! How are you supposed to self-isolate at home when armed men paid by the state have repeatedly destroyed your home? How can the City claim that this is a new occupation when they have been sending out armed men to attack Azania since March last year?

Calvin and Family Security then called the notorious Cato Manor police from the station known as KwaKito. In 2013 Nqobile Nzuza, a resident of the Marikana Occupation in Cato Crest, was murdered by Phumlani Ndlovu a police officer from KwaKito. After a long struggle he was convicted of murder in 2018. Our comrades have also been assaulted and tortured in KwaKito on a number of occasions.

The twenty-nine brave women were then arrested and taken to KwaKwito. They were detained in police custody and told that they would be charged with trespassing.

We sent our legal representatives to negotiate for police bail. However, the twenty-nine brave women were not actually charged with any offence so police bail could not be secured. After hours of negotiation with our legal team the police offered to release them on condition that they signed warning letters that say that they will not ‘trespass’ on the land where they had been living before the evictions. The women refused and made it clear to the police that they have nowhere else to go. They insisted that that the City must engage with the leadership of Abahlali to find a solution. The police then made a second threat to charge them. The women refused to sign these warnings and reiterated that they cannot consent to have been trespassing when they have lived in the settlement since last year.

At about 21:15pm they were finally released without any charge being laid and without having to pay bail. Even the police at KwaKwito could find no credible criminal charge on which to detain the women. Of course the police have not arrested anyone from Calvin and Family Security for repeated illegal evictions and repeated violence, including the repeated use of live ammunition against unarmed people.

These twenty-nine brave women have been living under the constant threat of state violence since they were first attacked and had their homes destroyed early last year. They have been attacked and evicted more than thirty times.

This is a list of the dates on which the Azania settlement has been attacked and homes destroyed. We can confirm that all the dates given here are accurate but this list is not complete. Our full list of the dates on which the Azania settlement has been attacked are in our office and we cannot access it under the lockdown.

1.     27 March 2019

2.     28 March 2019

3.     02 April 2019

4.     04 April 2019

5.     10 April 2019

6.     16 April 2019

7.     20 April 2019

8.     25 April 2019

9.     27 April 2019

10.  05 May 2019

11.  10 May 2019

12.  11 May 2019

13.  15 May 2019

14.  17 May 2019

15.  22 May 2019

16.  29 May 2019

17.  6 June 2019

18.  13 June 2019

19.  18 June 2019

20.  30 June 2019

21.  10 July 2019

22.  20 July 2019

23.  O1 August 2019

24.  07 August 2019

25.  15 August 2019

26.  21 August 2019

27.  31 March 2020

28.  2 April 2020

For the poor the price for land continues to be paid in blood, exhaustion, fear, further impoverishment and trauma. Is this kind of ongoing state violence not a kind of torture? It is a joke when people who have been through this kind of state violence are told by the Mayor that Durban is ‘a caring city’. It is a joke when the same state that says it is opposed to violence against women issues a tender to pay armed men to attack women.

The eThekwini Municipality is using the national lockdown as cover to attack our movement, and to attack settlements that it has wanted to ‘eradicate’ for years. In this dangerous time they are placing the most vulnerable people in society at even greater risk.

If the national government is serious about the moratorium on evictions it must move swiftly to arrest those responsible for the ongoing evictions in Durban in both the Municipality and in Calvin and Family Security. Calvin Family and Security must be shut down with immediate effect pending a full criminal investigation into its activities.

We will continue to resist these attacks. We will continue to occupy the land in all the settlements that are coming under attack. We will continue to speak truth to power in the media. We will continue to look for legal strategies that can be effective during the restrictions on organising imposed during lockdown.

We appreciate all the statements of solidarity that have been issued by different organisations in recent days. An injury to one is an injury to all.

Inkani iyo ezovula ndlela.

Onwards!

Abahlali baseMjondolo, April 10, 2020.


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