South Africa: No more fires! No more evictions! The poor assert their right to the city!


Elokshini eKapa As the AEC heads to Durban this weekend for an important alliance meeting and Shack Fire Summit with Abahlali BaseMjondolo (AbM), the residents of Foreman Rd are resisting the opportunistic illegal demolition of their homes by government after they experienced one of the most devastating fires of any informal settlement in the last few years.

Over 70% of the settlement burned down only a few days ago. Thats over 1,000 families who have lost everything they own. Abahlali baseMjondolo holds governments armed de-electrification program responsible for all shack fires, deaths from shack fires, and burnt property in their settlements.

But instead of helping residents, the government has used this disaster as an opportunity to destroy the remaining shacks and forcibly remove all residents to Temporary Relocation Areas (TRAs).

The Anti-Eviction Campaign knows this tactic all too well. In Joe Slovo, thousands of residents were removed to TRAs in Delft a few years ago when a big fire destroyed their homes. They are still stuck in these barren, unhealthy, asbestos and crime-ridden camps. Lindiwe Sisulu and her cronies are now trying to evict the rest of the Joe Slovo residents (almost 20,000) to the same TRAs in Delft as though the previous evictions were proven successful. But Joe Slovo residents say asiyi eDelft – they vow never to go to Delft.

Now, the government is also attempting to obtain a court order to evict the Pavement Dwellers of Symphony Way to another TRA in Delft (this one looks like a refugee camp with police controlling entry and enforcing a curfew for all occupants). But the Pavement Dwellers, who have already been evicted once this year, refuse to go anywhere but into a house.
They vow to sleep on Symphony Rd in the rain if bulldozers come to break down their shacks.

Other AEC affiliated communities are facing similar threats of evictions into the TRAs but every single one of them is attempting to resist. They know if they move there, they may be stuck in these government shacks forever.

In Durban, the AEC and AbM will also be having an important alliance meeting that will possibly introduce two more independent social movements into our Action Alliance (our national social movement alliance which challenges our oppressors when they act without a mandate from the people.

So, as the AEC heads to the first ever peoples Shack Fire Summit that is to be held in the ashes of Foreman Rd, we would like to remind the following to anyone interested in building a just world:

1) Even though we are poor, we are not stupid! We are the experts of our own communities. Only we can put an end to poverty.

2) Talk to us, not for us! We do not give any politician the mandate to speak on our behalf. We can speak for ourselves.

3) Aluta Continua! The people will continue to fight for our constitutional right to houses, to electricity, and other services.
Everyones basic needs must be met.

4) Outlaw all evictions now! Land is not property. Land is not a commodity. Land shall be shared by those who live on it.

Qina Mhlali! Qina! In solidarity with Foreman Rd and poor people anywhere and everywhere,

The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign