Shack-dweller activists go into hiding

Published Jul 2, 2013


Durban - Three members of shack-dwellers’ organisation Abahlali Basemjondolo, who have been receiving death threats, have gone into hiding after the murder of a comrade in Cato Crest.

 Activist Nkululeko Gwala, 34, was shot 12 times on Wednesday night following a meeting to discuss protests in the area, including torching the offices of two local councillors.

Gwala and his alleged part in the destruction became the centre of the discussion.

But on Monday, Sibongile Msiya, 30, also a member of Abahlali Basemjondolo, who admitted to being among the protesters, denied Gwala had been present at the torching of councillor Mzimuni Ngiba’s offices.

She said she now feared for her life and was in hiding.

Members of the Dhunbar community - part of councillor Zanele Ndzoyiya’s ward 30, which includes Cato Manor - had been on the rampage the night before Gwala got killed, said Msiya.

“He (Gwala) had been a very strict person. After seeing them run amok, he decided to withdraw himself and went home. He had never been there,” she said.

She said she had heard rumours that she was on a hitlist.

“My landlord had received a message that she must get rid of me, otherwise she would lose her RDP house,” she said.

Abahlali Basemjondolo general secretary Bandile Mdlalose said three members had had to flee the area after rumours spread that their names were on a hitlist.

Asked why these allegations had not been reported to the local police station, she said they had lost trust in the police.

“After it became clear that a meeting on Wednesday was about our (member) Gwala, police ought to have given him protection,” she said, adding that police had been at the meeting when speakers incited the community to violence.

Mdlalose said Gwala had reported intimidation, but nothing was done to investigate.

“As an organisation, we are obliged to protect our members. It will be difficult to say how long they would remain in hiding. Some of our members have been in hiding after assassination attempts failed three years ago,” she said.

SAPS spokesman Colonel Vincent Mdunge said nothing had been reported to the police regarding a hitlist, and he rejected allegations of incompetence levelled at the police.

“These people are just mongering rumours. They should make statements at the police station if they have any information which might help us arrest Gwala’s killers,” said Mdunge.

He said the situation was calm in Cato Manor and police were monitoring the area.

Gwala is expected to be buried in Inchanga on Wednesday.

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