Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement
ANC Intimidation Continues in Kennedy Road
On Sunday an ANC MP in the Provincial Parliament by the name of Dora Dlamini intimidated Nozuko Hulushe, a Kennedy Road resident and Abahlali baseMjondolo member, and demanded that she withdraw her assault charge against a local ANC leader before the case goes to trial.
The violent intimidation of AbM in the Kennedy Road settlement began with mysterious but very well organised and extremely brutal assaults on AbM leaders S’bu Zikode and Mashumi Figlan. Then, as the whole world knows, an armed mob, chanting ethnic slogans, went from door to door on the night of 28 September 2009 driving well known AbM leaders and members from their homes. Their homes were destroyed and looted while the police and local politicians looked on. The office of Willies Mchunu, the provincial MEC for Safety & Security, issued a statement that declared that Kennedy Road had been ‘liberated’.
The intimidation of AbM members, including the demolition of people’s houses, continued in the settlement for months after the main attack. There has also been extreme public intimidation, including the open issuing of death threats against various people, at the court appearance of the people arrested after the attack on the movement. One person who does not live in the Kennedy Road settlement was threatened with death and had to flee her home after she commented on our Constitutional Court victory against the Slums Act on the TV news.
One of the many ongoing incidents of violent intimidation against AbM in Kennedy Road occurred on the 7th of February this year. Well known AbM member, Nozuko Hulushe, was publicly assaulted, without warning or provocation, by Zibuyile Ngcobo and her sister Nana. Zibuyile Ngcobo is a well known ANC member and a member of the ANC BEC in Ward 25. She was part of the same group that attacked AbM on 28 September 2009 and she was also involved in the attack on AbM comrades from Siyanda while they were in the Kennedy Road settlement. She was made chairperson of the Kennedy Road ANC branch after the elected leadership was violently driven from the settlement. She is also alleged to have received a cheque from the ANC IN December. There are strong allegations that some of the attackers were paid for driving AbM out of Kennedy Road. Ngcobo attended all the court appearances for the Kennedy 13 wearing a dress made from a Jacob Zuma flag and she engaged in highly threatening behaviour outside the court.
On 7 February Ngcobo and her sister attacked Nozuko Hulushe with sticks and a brick beating her to the ground and pulling out her hair. During the beating Nozuko was told that she was ‘a problem in the community’ as she ‘did not attend ANC meetings’. Nozuko was severely injured in the attack and two of her teeth were knocked loose. It seemed that her attackers would have killed her if they had not been stopped. The attack was only stopped, as the main attack on 28 September 2009 was only stopped, when community members spontaneously intervened.
It has been very difficult and often impossible for AbM members who have been attacked, assaulted and driven from their homes in the Kennedy Road settlement to open cases with the police. This is not surprising in view of that the fact that the police and senior ANC politicians openly supported the attacks. However Nozuko was one of the few people who succeeded to open a case against her attackers. Immediately after she was beaten she went to the District Surgeon to complete the J8 form. There is therefore a good record of her injuries. There are a number of witnesses to the attack and she has a very strong case against Zibuyile Ngcobo. The case is due to be heard in court on 28 April 2010. This case will be very embarrassing for the ANC.
AbM has not been completely driven from the Kennedy Road settlement. Organising has continued in the settlement underground and more openly outside the settlement. There was strong support from Kennedy Road for the recent March on Jacob Zuma. Every Sunday the Kennedy Road AbM branch continues to have their regular meeting – but now they hold the assembly in a park in the city.
On Sunday Nozuko attended the weekly Kennedy Road AbM meeting in the park. When she returned to her home in the settlement she found that the Sydenham police were there with a woman, in a car with a driver. This woman was talking to her daughter. She told Nuzoko that she is working in parliament and she showed an ID card with her picture and an SAPS badge. It was written ‘Liaison Officer Member of Parliament’ and that her name was Dora Dlamini. Dlamini told Nozuko that she was there to work on abused women and she said that the case that Nuzoko has opened against Zibuyile Ngcobo is abusive. She instructed Nuzuko to withdraw the case before it goes to court. Nzukuko said that she knows her rights and that she refuses to withdraw the case. Dlamini said that she was ‘giving a homework’ to Nozuko and that she will came back later to check that the charges have been withdrawn. She was speaking as people who are having a higher position speak. She was very bolshy and refused to listen.
After Dlamini left Nozuko went to the Sydenham police station and tried to lay a charge of intimidation against her but they would not accept the case.
At 9:45 that night Nozuko received a threatening phone call from a private number. The caller warned her to drop the case. She received a further two phone calls before she switched her phone off.
We have known Dora Dlamini for a long time. She is from Ward 25 and has been living in Sydenham Heights for many years. When she got the position in parliament we were all very surprised. She was never useful to the community at all. She lived just up the road from Kennedy Road but we never saw her when the settlement burnt, when babies were dying of diarrhoea, when women were raped looking for a private place to go relive themselves in the night because we are denied toilets or when we lived, year after year, with 6 taps for thousands of people. But as soon as we ask for justice, as soon as ask for the truth to be recognised, as soon as we ask to be safe from political violence, as soon as we make it clear that we will not be beaten back into silence she is at the settlement to intimidate us.
If we lose hope in the ANC and organise ourselves we are attacked. But, really, can we be expected to maintain hope in the ANC if people like Dara Dlamini are taken to these high offices?
We were attacked in the night and driven from our homes. Many of us lost everything. Our attackers had the full support of the police and the politicians. That is not democracy. There is no democracy for the poor in this country. A democracy that is not for everyone is not a real democracy therefore there is no democracy for anyone in this country.
No evidence has been brought against our five comrades that are still in Westville Prison six months after the attack. But when we bring real and clear evidence against our attackers we are intimidated by powerful people who demand that we drop the case against them. When we are attacked and our homes are destroyed that attack is called‘liberation’. When we succeed to lay a charge against our attackers that charge is called ‘abuse’. Words have lost their proper meanings in this country. They have just become more weapons to keep us, as the poor, in our place.
We have had to develop our own democracy. We have had to develop our own analysis of the truth of what is happening in this country. We concluded, long ago, that the only force that will win the poor a decent place in this society – a place in the cities, in the discussions, in the schools, in the universities, on the land and in the economy – is the power of the organised poor. We invite everyone who is prepared to talk to us and not for us or about us to join us in the struggle to make this democracy real for the poor. Right now that struggle has to start with concrete actions to defend people who are under attack, who have been chased from their homes and who are in prison. We are issuing a clear warning to the ANC that if anything happens to Nozuko Hulushe we will hold them accountable. She has the full support of the whole of AbM and we will stand with her in this difficult time and we will keep standing with her until she is free to live in Kennedy Road and to support what ever organisation and ideas she wants to support.
We strongly feel that either the ANC or Willies Mchubu have given Dora Dlamini a mandate to intimidate Nozuko. After the attack on AbM Mchunu and his team prepared a report on what happened. They took a resolution that AbM ‘must be disbanded’ and reported this to parliament. We are calling on the ANC to give us some clarity. Have they given Dora Dlamini the mandate to intimidate Nuzuko? If it was not the ANC as a whole does the mandate come from Willies Mchunu? Will the ANC distance itself from Dora’s activities?
We repeat our call for an independent and credible commission of inquiry into the attack and ongoing intimidation in Kennedy Road.
For more information please contact Abahlali baseMjondolo on 031 304 6420.