File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
Shack dwellers’ movement Abahlali Basemjondolo is accusing the SAPS of being in bed with the ANC and of allowing attacks on its members to continue without consequences.

Abahlali was formed in Durban in 2005 and spread throughout the country. The organisation’s chairperson in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni, Melita Ngcobo, said the SAPS continued to be complicit in the repression and suppression of its members.

“We have been attacked by the police, the izinkabi (hit men) and mobs organised by the ruling party. Our members have been beaten, subjected to illegal arrest, tortured, driven from their homes and murdered,” Ngcobo claimed.

“Our members are routinely subject to illegal and violent evictions by the state, as well as armed and violent disconnection from self-organised access to services. Resistance is also criminalised. When we organise in defence of our humanity, our resistance is treated as a conspiracy and met with slander and violence,” Ngcobo said.

Ngcobo said violence against Abahlali activism had spread throughout the country with little or no action by the police in bringing those responsible to book.

“In Ekukhanyeni police have, on a number of occasions, refused to open cases for our members when they have been attacked by members of the ANC. Many of our branches in Durban have been suppressed at the hands of the police. These include eNkanini, eKhenana, New City and Silver City,” she said.

She added: “The police often speak as if all residents of shack settlements are criminals, and as if our organisation is criminal. When our members approach the police for assistance when facing attacks from members of the ANC, the police often dismiss them as criminals, even though they are the ones coming under violent attack.”

She said the organisation would continue to fight for the rights of residents of informal settlements who continued to live on the margins of society.

“Our movement will continue to insist that we all have the right to join any political organisation of our choice, that we all have the right to oppose the actions and policies of the ruling party, and that it is the systems of capitalism and racism that have impoverished us that are the problem in our society, and not the people who have been impoverished,” said Ngcobo.

Gauteng police spokesperson ­Brigadier Mathapelo Peters was not available for comment.

Political Bureau