Civil society calls for protection of Abahlali baseMjondolo leaders following murders

File Picture: Doctor Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)

File Picture: Doctor Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 20, 2022


Durban - The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (Seri) has raised its concerns over the ongoing attacks directed at the informal settlement dwellers’ movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo.

The concerns, which were drafted in a letter, were sent to the government and commissioners of regional and international human rights organisations. It received an endorsement from more than 140 civil society organisations and individuals.

Seri candidate attorney Zolile Shude said the letter called for urgent intervention at national level to protect other leaders at risk, and ensure that transparent, independent and expeditious investigations were conducted.

“The letter calls for the minister of justice, the minister of police and the South African Human Rights Commission to assist in addressing the situation in eKhenana. The letter also calls on the South African government to invite the UN OHCHR Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders to visit South Africa,” said Shude.

In the past six months, three Abahlali leaders from the eKhenana Commune in Cato Manor in Durban were killed.

Ayanda Ngila was murdered in March, Nokuthula Mabaso was murdered in May and Lindokuhle Mnguni was murdered last month. Mabaso and Mnguni were witnesses to the murder of Ngila.

“In addition, several Abahlali members, including the three who have been assassinated, have been arrested and detained repeatedly for charges ranging from assault, conspiracy to commit murder, and murder although none of these prosecutions have resulted in a conviction.

“Many members in the community are at risk because of their roles as leaders and/or because they have been witnesses to the assassinations of fellow Abahlali members. This has forced them into hiding for their safety and that of their families,” said Shude.

Shude said as members of civil society, in support of Abahlali, they condemned such attacks and the apparent silence on these events from the government.

“Such violence against movements and organisations like Abahlali is an indication that South Africa’s constitutional democracy and the freedoms for which we fought so hard are under attack.”

Abahlali baseMjondolo general secretary Thapelo Mohapi said they were pleased with the solidarity that they had received from civil society organisations.

“We have always appreciated the support from international and local organisations that stands with Abahlali during these difficult times.

“This letter was addressed to the president, minister of justice and minister of police, and we hope that it will have an impact and bring an end to these killings.”