[DEBATE] : Shack dwellers take on Ethekwini - and win
pithouser at ukzn.ac.za
Tue Feb 28 05:36:31 GMT 2006
Note Sutcliffe's brazen lies.....we will have to vigorously contest his spin doctoring over the next few days.
Shack dwellers take on Ethekwini - and win
Joy as court rules in favour of march
February 28, 2006
By Carvin Goldstone
The Abahlali BaseMjondolo, the shack dwellers' movement, celebrated a victory over the eThekwini City Management yesterday when it obtained a court interdict preventing police from stopping its march to the Durban City Hall.
The group was protesting that provision of basic services such as housing and water to some informal settlements was happening at snail's pace.
The group claims that it had been trying for weeks to inform the office of City Manager Michael Sutcliffe about its intentions to march, but the city had not responded.
However, Sutcliffe said the municipality had "at every step . . . responded timeously to requests by that organisation to respond to their application".
He added that a letter of application to march had been received by his office and that a meeting had been held between him and the march organisers on February 9.
"The organisers walked out of the meeting after stating that they would continue to march even if permission was denied. They said they were prepared to die for their cause and the 'police can shoot us'," he said.
The movement, which represents 14 informal settlements and several other communities across Durban, pulled the plug on its march last Monday because it claimed not to have received any response to a letter of intent to march from the city.
The group reapplied to the city to march yesterday and vowed that it would go ahead with the march whether or not the city responded.
But as early as 4.30am yesterday, police had begun swarming around the Foreman and Kennedy Road informal settlements near Sydenham where most of the movements' leaders live.
Police had blocked the exit points and tried to keep people from leaving for the march.
The movement had hired several buses to transport people to Louis Botha Park where the mass march was expected to begin, but police stopped people from boarding.
Fazel Khan from the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Centre for Civil Society, who had assisted in organising the buses, tried to persuade police monitoring the gathering at Overport not to disperse the crowd, but police insisted that the gathering was illegal.
At that point the movement was regathering and Khan tried to persuade police to leave the people alone because they were seeking a court interdict in the Durban High Court to allow them to march. By the early afternoon, a four-man court delegation, which included the leader of the Abahlali BaseMjondolo, S'bu Zikode, emerged from the Durban High court waving an interdict which stated that the police's attempt to stop the march was illegal.
The judge ruled that the march "to highlight issues of landlessness and lack of housing is not prohibited or illegal".
The Ministry of Safety and Security and the eThekwini Municipality were also ordered to show by March 13 why they should not be ordered to jointly pay the costs of the court application.
However, Sutcliffe said the city would take the matter further.
"We will be asking serious questions of the court because we cannot allow anarchy having anyone marching at any time and any place," he said.
A group which had already gathered jumped in jubilation on hearing the news that the march would go ahead. The group handed a memorandum to Lennox Mabaso, spokesman for Housing and Local Government MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, asking for solid promises of planned housing provision.
The Freedom of Expression Institute, which assisted with the court application, said the judgment was a victory not only for Abahlali BaseMjondolo but also for all poor communities to free expression through protests and demonstrations.
Durban squatters accuse police of assault
Four members of the Shack Dwellers Movement, also known as also known as Abahlali Base Mjondolo, arrested at the beginning of a march on the Durban City Hall on Monday, will lay assault charges against the police.
Mdu Hlongwa, 26, said he and three others were beaten with a mop handle and kicked while forced to the floor by police in a cell at Sydenham police station after being arrested on Monday morning.
"Later they took us to a fence and pushed us really hard against it," he said.
"Earlier when we asked where we could go to the toilet they had told us 'piss where you are'."
The four were picked up before the Durban High Court had ruled that their march to demand housing would be legal.
Hlongwa said he had been waiting for his transport to the march when he was arrested.
His companions were Ludumo Mgibi, 33, Philani Ntazi, 20, and Luvuyo Mkhize, 23.
The four were released on Monday afternoon in time to reach the march at the City Hall. - Sapa
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