The Work of violence:a timeline of armed attacks at Kennedy Road


Here, following on from Jared Sacks’ report on the repression of the Landless People’s Movement in Johannesburg is a timeline, by Kerry Chance, of the events that took place in the Kennedy Road shack settlement in Durban on 26 September 2009 which resulted in Abahlali baseMjondolo being violently displaced from the settlement. It is an important document for anyone interested in the news forms of repression developing in South Africa as our liberal democracy fast gives way to a much more authoritarian system of crony capitalism in which repression is increasingly mobilised horizontally and communally with the tacit support of the police rather than, as it used to be, just vertically and via the direct actions of the police.

Chance, K. (2010) The Work of violence:a timeline of armed attacks at Kennedy Road. School of Development Studies Research Report, 83, July 2010.

To read the report just click here

On 26 September 2009, violent attacks by an armed group left two men dead and an estimated thousand displaced at the Kennedy Road shack settlement in the South African city of Durban. This timeline, centered on the night the attacks began to unfold, and upon the Community Hall, proposes three meaningful dimensions: (1) the mobilization of political party affiliation and the specter of an ethnic-other tied to material relations, especially employment and state resources; (2) new modes of policing in an ensuing social drama over a state-backed crackdown on criminal gangs and shebeens; (3) contested claims to political sovereignty articulated through election-time “development” projects. In proposing these three dimensions, this timeline, amid happenings of that day, sketches in broad strokes, shifts in relevant interactions between Abahlali baseMjondolo, a poor peoples’ social movement, and officials, between 2008 and 2009, at the local, municipal, and provincial level. These dimensions, entailing both articulations during the attacks by armed men, as well as post-facto in public statements by officials, coalesced to displace members of Abahlali from their homes and national headquarters in the Kennedy Road settlement.