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A total of nine comrades have now been arrested on trumped up charges in the latest wave of repression against the eKhenena Commune. Six have already had all charges withdrawn. Two of the six spent two weeks in prison and the other four spent six months in prison. Yesterday Nokuthula Mabaso, Thozama Mazwi and Sindiswa Ngcobo were released on bail after spending two weeks in Westville prison.
The police are currently in eKhenena. They say that they are there to make more arrests.
The sustained attack on the eKhenana Commune is being orchestrated by the ANC at both the local level in Cato Manor and in the eThekwini Municipality. The arrest of nine leaders who have been in the forefront of building the Commune was not just planned at the local level.
The land on which the Commune was built was first occupied in 2018 and ever since it has faced attacks from both the eThekwini Municipality and the local ANC. There have been repeated armed, violent and illegal attempts to destroy the occupation. During the first Covid lockdown last year the Municipality sent out the notoriously violent Calvin Security company to demolish people’s homes in violation of the Constitution, the law, the Covid regulations and a court interdict preventing the Municipality from demolishing people’s homes. There has been consistent state violence and criminality from the Municipality.
There has also been sustained repression from the local ANC, which has been desperately trying, for years, to take over the land and destroy the commune. NS Ngubane, a powerful person in the local ANC who has tried to secure nomination as a councillor, has been a central figure in this. The ANC want to crush the commune because it is a political threat and they want to take over the land so that they can sell it to people to build shacks, rent out shacks and then, finally, build and sell government flats through corrupt means.
We have now received papers from the Municipality declaring their intention to get a court order to destroy the eKhenana Commune by demolishing the homes and other structures that have been built and driving the residents off the land. They want to destroy a self-built and democratically managed community that has produced its own food and ensured that many families are sustained. How can the government destroy such a Commune in the midst of an economic crisis that has hit the poorest of the poor so much that there is already starvation and hunger across the country?
The attack on the Commune is now coming from all angles, but the resistance continues. The ANC, along with some others, have tried to destroy our movement for 16 years but they have failed. The state has control over the police and the Anti-Land Invasion unit, they have public relations departments for propaganda and they have huge budgets to buy support. The local ANC structures also have access to these budgets and to the police and izinkabi and, as we have seen with eKhenena, the ability to manipulate the criminal justice system. We have faced a powerful enemy but after 16 years of repression our movement is bigger and more powerful than ever before with over 100 000 paid up members across five provinces, and many more supporters.
We have strong militants in eKhenana that have resisted this far. They have endured the most dangerous prison in the country, Westville. They have resisted even when the ANC used izinkabi to try and destroy the Commune. They have survived numerous armed attempts at eviction by the Municipality. Now the state is taking the battle into the courts. They have done this with the arrest and imprisonment of the nine comrades on crudely faked charges. They are also doing it with the attempt to get a court order to enable them to physically destroy the Commune. We will meet them in the courts with our radical pro bono lawyers and we will continue to build the Commune, to run classes in the Frantz Fanon school and to build solidarity with the Commune.
We have noted before that when our comrades from eKhenana appear in court NS Ngubane openly goes in and out of the office of the Chief Magistrate, whose name is also Ngubane, and that he openly makes threats against our members in the corridors of the court. At the appearance in court yesterday of the three women that were released on bail he was heard threatening our members that he was from Msinga (a notoriously violent area) and that they are going to ‘deal with’ members of Abahlali in eKhenana. This is the threat that he has continually made in the occupation. It is a death threat.
NS Ngubane also works closely with KwaKito (the Cato Manor police station) and seems to be able to have people arrested by the police on faked charges at will. The police there also refuse to open charges by members of our movement when they are attacked. They openly follow a political line and not the law.
We are concerned about these threats as the ANC is Durban is seriously gangsterised and political murders are routine. A number of our leaders have been murdered since 2013 and the ANC are killing each all the time. Cato Manor is one of the most violent areas in the city. Murders are routine. A week ago Siyabonga Mkhize, an ANC candidate in the local government elections, was murdered in Cato Crest, which is adjacent to Cato Manor.
If they can kill each other without shame they will think nothing of killing us.
We send a message of deep thanks to all the comrades around the world who have shown solidarity with the eKhenana Commune and other movement at this time.
The struggle continues.