DESPITE the long-standing tension between eThekwini Municipality and shack dwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo, SANDF Acting Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi has denied reports that the army was deployed ahead of the movements march on Monday.
According to Mkhwanazi, SANDF had a planned event at the City Hall and was never involved in the policing of the march as it is not within its mandate.
“Police management was informed of the planned march and deployed police officers accordingly. We appeal to media houses to report with integrity and to refrain from misleading the public by not verifying facts,” said Mkhwanazi.
Meanwhile, the shack dwellers said the march follows a number of attempts to engage municipalities and provincial government only to be ignored. The movement claims to have written letters to the President and the Police Minister, both dated 6 June 2018, which were ignored.
“We all agreed that there is a serious crisis in our country. The poor are being pushed out of our cities.We are being pushed out of meaningful engagement and democratic spaces we have chosen ourselves. Yes, we are being forced off our land through a barrel of gun. The councillor system has not only become a system of top down political control, but is a threat to future stability in our country. Some councillors are a danger to our democracy and our communities,” read a statement from Abahlali.
Among the demands contained in the memorandum is the demand for the President to establish a credible and independent commission of inquiry into the killing of Abahlali activists and other community activists; an investigation of the eThekwini Municipality’s Land Invasion Unity; a full disclosure of the Housing budget in eThekwini and the Provincial Department of Human Settlements and an end to all harassment of street traders.
The movement was joined by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) in KwaZulu-Natal. The union’s representative Mbuso Ngubane said the government had launched a systematic attack against Abahlali since the organisation’s formation in 2005.
“The members of this movement have been victims of assault, repression, torture, arrest, organised campaigns of slander and death threats. Their members are routinely evicted and arrested by an ANC government which claims to be supporting expropriation of land without compensation. We demand the right to freedom of association and the right to freely organise. We demand that all political murders of the members of the movement be properly investigated. We demand that all death threats be investigated and those responsible arrested,” he said.
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