South African shack dwellers’ movement resists police attack on its eKhenana land occupation

More than 200 of the armed personnel used rubber bullets and live ammunition against eKhenana occupation, leaving several of its shack-dwellers injured.

Shacks in eKhenana, a new land occupation in Cato Crest in Durban.
Residents of Ekhenana have been evicted several times. “We are all here because we share one sad sentiment: we are homeless. We are decent people who may be looked down upon because we cannot afford rent or even material for our shacks,” says a resident.

The South African Shack Dwellers’ movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM), has said in a press statement that, on November 8, the anti-land invasion unit, the armed security and metro police together launched a violent armed attack on the eKhenana land occupation in Cato Crest.

More than 200 of the armed personnel used rubber bullets and live ammunition against eKhenana occupation, leaving several of its shack-dwellers injured. At least three of the injured – namely Mthobeli Sinaba, Bhekokuhle Shezi and Landu Tshazi – had to be admitted to the King Edward hospital.

Since its founding in August 2017, the ekhenana land occupation has been repeatedly attacked by armed security personnel. In one such instance, the councillor of the local ward, Mzimuni Ngiba, was seen personally accompanying the police and the anti-land invasion unit as they attacked the residents staying there in shacks erected by the movement.

The leaders of the local ward, who belong to the ruling African National Congress (ANC), have repeatedly said that they will not accept the occupation and that if the need arises, they will resort to violence to uproot it.

The attack on eKhenana land occupation is not exception, but just another another case of the systematic attack on the AbM by the ruling ANC government. For instance, in July, in the Phumula Mqashi Land Occupation in Tembisa township, 266 shacks – along with the residents’ belonging such as mattresses and children’s books – were burnt down by the Ekurhuleni metro police department (EMPD), who fired rubber bullets at the residents, including on the elderly, women and children. The following month, AbM’s president S’bu Zikode was forced to go underground as an assassination attempt against him was imminent.  

“The hypocrites in the ANC continue to speak about land reform in parliament and in the media while violently evicting black people in the cities, like the apartheid government did. They do not recognise our humanity. We are treated like animals,” AbM noted.

“Under the ANC we continue to pay for land with blood,” AbM said in its statement, adding, however, “We continue to commit ourselves to democratic self-organisation and land reform from below. We continue to commit ourselves to defend our occupations. We continue to commit ourselves to defend our humanity.”

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