South Africa. April 18. 2020. The ANC led municipality in Durban, under Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, continues to attack the poor in these difficult times.
Submitted to Enough 14.
Yesterday at 2:30 the notoriously violent Calvin & Family security company arrived at the Azania occupation in Cato Manor, in Durban, with the Anti-Land Invasion Unit. They destroyed 17 homes. Today they returned at 11:00, fired live ammunition to disperse the comrades gathered on the land, and then destroyed the 13 shacks that had been rebuilt after the eviction yesterday.
The comrades in the Azania occupation have now had their homes demolished more than ten times since the lockdown began, and more than 30 times since the land was first occupied in February last year. Numerous people have been seriously injured in these violent attacks, and recently twenty-nine brave women were arrested by Calvin & Family Security and taken to the notorious KwaKwito police station by the army.
Yesterday Calvin & Family Security also returned to Ekuphumeleleni and spray painted Xs on people’s homes. This means that they will be returning to evict again there too.
Despite the moratorium on evictions during the lockdown there have also been attacks on impoverished and precarious communities in Johannesburg and in Cape Town. On Thursday a large number of shacks, and some homes built with bricks, were demolished by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department and the notorious Red Ants private security company in Lawley Extension Two in the south of Johannesburg. There was no court order authorising these evictions. Last week the City of Johannesburg was found to have acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally when they evicted residents of the Van Beeck Hostel in the city centre without a court order.
Just before the Easter weekend residents of the eMpolweni occupation, close to Makhaza in Khayelitsha in Cape Town, were violently evicted by the City of Cape Town’s Anti Land Invasion Unit. These evictions had already started before the lockdown, and some of the residents had been living on the land since February.
In Durban the residents of the Azania occupation were denied an interdict protecting them from ongoing violent attacks organised and paid for by the eThekwini Municipality on the grounds that the judge accepted the City’s claim that the shacks that it was demolishing are new. The reality is that people have been living on that land since February last year and rebuilding their shacks after each eviction. A new shack does not indicate a new resident. The municipalities in Cape Town and Johannesburg have also justified recent evictions by claiming that the homes that they destroyed were not occupied.
However, we note with great pleasure the victory of the residents in eMpolweni in court. The judge ruled in favour of the eMpolweni residents after the City of Cape Town, led by the liberal and anti-poor Democratic Alliance government, demolished their homes on a number of occasions. We have been closely following the work that has been done by the Community Action Network (CAN) in fighting against these violent, illegal evictions. We celebrate with our comrades in Cape Town. Their victory is our victory. We are happy that our comrades who have been rendered homeless by the City will now be able to rebuild.
We also note with grave concern that while the judgement in Cape Town ruled in the favour of the poor in this time of lock down in Durban in a similar matter, with clear evidence of sustained occupation, the judgement was against the poor and favoured the brutality of a notoriously corrupt and violent municipality. This is a municipality that has been widely referred to as a gangster municipality for years. There have been more than 160 political assassinations in this municipality in the last ten years.
It is of urgent importance that lockdown regulations must be amended to ensure that all individuals and communities that are being subject to state violence are able to move around in order to prepare for urgent court cases. The lockdown makes it impossible to organise in the way that we used to, and if it also makes it very difficult for people to prepare for urgent court cases the poor will be left in an extremely vulnerable position.
Also, if the national government wants the poor to continue to trust them and to accept this lockdown they must move, immediately, to suspend and arrest all government officials and service providers involved in ongoing illegal evictions that violate the Constitution, the law and the regulations governing the lockdown. This should include the Mayors of the municipalities in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.
Evictions are not the only crisis that we are facing. In Durban the municipality is also continuing to send armed men from Calvin & Family Security to disconnect people from self-organised connections to electricity. This undermines people’s ability to ensure that all self-organised connections are safely done with insulated and buried cables. This is made worse during the Covid-19 crisis when people don’t have the ability to travel to purchase safe replacement materials.
The Food Crisis
Across the country poor and working-class people are rapidly running out of food as a result of being unable to earn an income during the lockdown. The little food that is being made available from the government is being captured by corrupt ANC councillors who are either stealing it or only giving it to their supporters.
Abahlali baseMjondolo is making its own arrangements to provide food to our branches, starting with the occupations that have come under violent attack from the municipality in Durban. We are in the process of expanding our food security programme to other towns in KwaZulu-Natal, and other provinces.
However, it is critically urgent that the state needs to intervene in the food crisis. The state needs to:
1. Immediately provide food parcels to all communities and individuals in need, including migrants, whether documented or not, and without regard to party political affiliation. It is critically important that this support is provided directly to people in need and that it is not captured by corrupt councillors.
2. The existing grant system must be used to immediately provide emergency relief to all people who are already receiving grants.
3. The UIF system must also be used to provide immediate relief to all people who are not being paid during the lockdown.
4. People must be able to occupy land, including urban land, for the purposes of growing food. This will not provide immediate relief to the food crisis that is getting worse by the hour, but it will help to break the power of capitalism over the food system and ensure greater food sovereignty going forward.
Some ANC leaders have become a disgrace to all who fought against colonialism. The ANC is a corrupt organisation that is extremely violent in Durban, and is led by capitalists at the national level. These capitalists always put profit before people, the commercial value of land before its social value and are about to sell our country out to the IMF.
In the meantime, we will continue to rebuild after evictions, and we will continue to run our own food security programme to ensure that people can survive this crisis. After this crisis all progressive organisations of the poor and the working-class need to work together to break the power of the gangster politicians who have repressed us so violently and looted the state for their own enrichment. We also need to break the power of the system of racial capitalism that made us poor, and keeps us poor.
In this crisis it would be normal to think that when the government comes to the poor they would come with food, medicine and nurses and doctors. But the reality is that the government comes with guns to destroy people’s homes. No human being can be expected to accept this.
Umzabalazo uyaqhubeka noma besidubula.
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