Wednesday, June 27, 2012

South Africa: Update from Ward 88 in Umlazi, Durban

Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Unemployed People’s Movement Press Statement
Update from Ward 88 in Umlazi, Durban
In all the confusion and urgency last night it was impossible to meet and prepare a clear statement explaining events. We are now in a position to do so.

Yesterday the Unemployed People’s Movement called a meeting in Ward 88, Umlazi. At this meeting it was resolved to stage a peaceful occupation of the Ward Councillor’s offices. The offices were duly occupied and commissions were then set up to hold discussions on various matters. There was a commission on unemployment, on housing and on safety (crime and shack fires).
This was an important symbolic gesture. We were occupying the site of local power and using it to discuss the matters that the ANC has failed to discuss and to address.

The police arrived and at around 1 o’clock the occupation was dispersed. We left peacefully.
At around 6 o’clock on the same evening we were informed by sympathisers within the local ANC that the ANC was planning to burn down the councillor’s office, to blame it on the UPM and to use this tactic to have our key activists jailed. We took a decision to rush back to the office and protect it. We want this office to be a people’s office. We do not want it to be destroyed. And we had to foil the plot by the ANC to organise criminal activities and to then try and blame our activists for their activities. This is not the first time that the ANC has tried to use this strategy in Durban. In the past people have been bribed and tortured to give evidence against activists and so we had to be very careful and to act quickly to stop the ANC plan to burn down the councillor’s offices.

When we arrived at the councillor’s offices the police were waiting for us. They immediately attacked us with rubber bullets, tear gas and live ammunition. We dispersed. The police then attacked the Zakheleni Shack Settlement. People were attacked at random. All residents were treated as legitimate targets for attack.

One woman was shot with live ammunition while sleeping in her bed. Her name is Noxolo Mkway and she is 23 years of age. Her bed is stained with blood and the cartridge from the bullet was found on the bed. Another man was also shot with live ammunition. His name is Mkhayi Simelane and he is 29 years of age. They have both been located now and are both in hospital. Three people were also arrested. They are still in detention. Our emergency statement produced in the chaos of last night said that three people were shot with live ammunition. Today we can confirm that while a number of people were shot with rubber bullets two and not three people were shot with live ammunition.
We are currently on the way to the court to secure the release of the three comrades.

We thank Abahlali baseMjondolo, the South Durban Community & Environmental Alliance and the Democratic Left Front for their solidarity. The struggles continues.
Bheki Buthelezi (UPM) – 072 639 9893
China Ngubane (R2K) – 072 651 9790

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