DURBAN - Abahlali baseMjondolo (ABM) leaders in KwaZulu-Natal are still in shock after the murder of Ayanda Ngila, 29, the deputy chairperson of Khenana informal settlement, a piece of land occupied by 109 families in Cato Manor, Durban.
Ngila was shot and killed on Tuesday while working on the irrigation piping in the communal garden of the settlement.
ABM President Sbu Zikode told the Daily News on Wednesday that his organisation “knew the killers, and that they were working with eThekwini Municipality to intimidate residents and even to kill them”.
Zikode said, after his organisation successfully interdicted the municipality from evicting 109 families on the Khenana land, the municipality started working with a well-known family in the taxi business to intimidate people so that they would vacate the land and make way for the “taxi business family to build flats”.
Zikode claimed that the family had connections right up to the courts, because they were not being prosecuted even though there was evidence.
He further stated that Abahlali members were constantly subjected to harassment, including trumped-up charges which would be dropped after members spent time in prison, saying Ngila was out on bail for a murder case that was “cooked”.
Before that, he said Ngila was arrested last year, and charges were dropped in October, only for him to be arrested again for the murder case he was out on bail for.
“The commune has come under relentless, violent attack from the police and the anti-land invasion unit. Our leaders have regularly been arrested on bogus charges, denied bail, and detained in prison. Ayanda recently spent six months in prison, was released when the charges were dropped, and then sent back to prison on more bogus charges,” Zikode said.
“On Sunday, Ngila and others were welcomed back to the commune from the second period in prison in a beautiful celebration of solidarity. That night our members were attacked with axes. Ayanda is a martyr in the struggle for land, dignity, freedom and socialism. His name will be celebrated around the world. We will ensure that his life is honoured and that his spirit lives on in our movement.”
eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela dismissed Abahlali’s claims, saying the city was not aware of this incident.
He said: “If Abahlali have conclusive evidence to this effect, they are at liberty to open a case with the police.”
“Please note the city will never relent in clamping down on land invasions, within the perimeters of the law. We are a city that permanently subscribes to the rule of law and, as a result, under no circumstances shall we instruct our members to go out and kill members of the public, irrespective of whether they have broken the law or not,” Mayisela said.
In a statement, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim condemned the incident and said they were shocked to learn about the murder of Ngila.
“His murder is the latest in a series of unrelenting attacks on ABM and its followers over the past couple of years,” the Numsa statement read.