Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement Press Statement: Two ANC Ward Councillors Have Launched a Local Militia in Durban

In our previous
 we reported that our members are facing serious
intimidation and harassment from ANC councillors, and their committees, in a
number of wards in Durban. This included the shooting of the husband of one of
our members in Bhambayi, in Ward 52, on the 26th of March 2017.

On Saturday the 08th April
2017 two ANC Ward Councillors from Wards 52 and 57 officially launched an armed
vigilante group known as ‘Qina Mhlali’, a well known slogan from our movement.
Witnesses say that the group was mainly made up of men armed with all sorts of
weapons. These weapons included spears, bush knives, pangas and guns.

According to the two
councillors this group will ‘fight against crime’ in their respective wards.
This is a matter of serious concern to us. We all know that people who have
organised outside of the ANC have been presented as ‘criminals’ in the past.
This happened in 2009 when senior ANC leaders called our movement ‘criminal’
before, during and after our members were attacked by an armed informal militia
in the Kennedy Road settlement. That militia identified itself as ANC and it
also identified itself as Zulu. We are also highly aware that when xenophobic
attacks have been organised the attackers, who have often had support from
politicians, have said that they are attacking ‘criminals’.

There was no democratic
process in these two wards leading to the formation of this armed vigilante
group. It was simply announced by the two councillors. They have effectively
set up an armed militia. This takes us back to the xenophobic violence that has
been organised to divide our communities since 2008 and the attack on our
movement in Kennedy Road in 2009. It also takes us back to the 1980s and the
way in which so-called ‘black on black’ violence was used to attack the progressive

The station commissioner of
the area told the Abahlali Local Council in the area that as the police they do
not recognise this structure. He said that it is against the law for the
community to take law in their own hands. He was very clear that it is against
the law for anybody, including councillors, to organise armed groups.

We do not believe that the
purpose of this militia is to fight crime. It is clear to us that the purpose
of this militia will be to use violence and intimidation to repress free
political activity in these wards. We call upon all democrats to join us in
opposing this militia and to take a clear stand for the rights of of all
people, including impoverished black people, to organise freely and to live
without fear and intimidation.

Blessing Nyoni (Local
Chairperson) – 084 6953 205

Thapelo Mohapi – 062 8925

George Bonono – 073 0673

Land & Dignity!

Abahlali baseMjondolo http://www.abahlali.org