Tensions flare after 'hit' on shack official

The shack dwellers' movement began in Durban in early 2005 and now has tens of thousands of supporters from more than 30 settlements. (Abahlali baseMjondolo)

The shack dwellers' movement began in Durban in early 2005 and now has tens of thousands of supporters from more than 30 settlements. (Abahlali baseMjondolo)

The South African shack dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo has alleged the fatal shooting of its KwaNdengezi chairperson, Thuli Ndlovu, was a political assassination.

Ndlovu was killed on Monday evening by a gunman who shot her seven times while she was watching television.

According to an Abahlali press release, Ndlovu had been threatened and intimidated by an ANC official.

Ndabo Mzimela, the secretary general of Abahlali, told the Mail & Guardian that Ndlovu had received a phone call from an unknown individual shortly before the incident.

Mzimela said Ndlovu had opened a case of intimidation with the police, which he said had not been investigated.

According to Mzimela, there was tension between the ANC and residents of the area – near Pinetown in KwaZulu-Natal – because houses were being unfairly sold by officials to outsiders, including ANC politicians.

“We have been removed from the housing lists and now we are being victimised,” he said.

Pointing fingers
Bheki Ntshangase, regional ANC secretary for the eThekwini region, said on Thursday the party conveys its condolences to the family of the deceased and that it is irresponsible of Abahlali to start pointing fingers before the investigation is finalised.

“We also want to say that the ANC is not involved in the killings and urge the police to speed up the investigation so that the perpetrators are brought to book. If people make such allegations it can negatively affect the investigation – if they have such information, they should take it to the police. We are not aware of tensions between Abahlali and the ANC,” he said.

According to a separate Abahlali press release, a similar situation has arisen in Cato Crest and Sisonke Village, where the movement claims the ANC has unlawfully evicted families because it has reserved the land for its own families.

Mary de Haas, who has independently monitored political violence in the province for several years, said political intolerance between Abahlali and ANC is rife.

“In Cato Crest it was explicitly stated that the area was ANC territory and Nkululeko Gwala [an Abahlali baseMjondolo member], who was killed [in June 2013], was not welcome because he and Abahlali were seen as being in political opposition to the ANC,” she said.
“Historically Abahlali drew in people from different parties, but before the elections this year they came out in open support of the DA [Democratic Alliance].”

Poor handling
De Haas said the crux of the problem is the poor handling of land and housing issues on the part of government. “The eThekwini municipality is handling housing allocation badly because it is not using housing lists, so there is no transparency, and there are serious allegations about houses being allocated on the basis of party allegiance.

“Councillors are allegedly involved in allocating houses – and beds in hostels – which is not their job. It should be done in a transparent manner through people employed by the municipality, that is: bureaucrats. Again, it goes back to a failure to distinguish between government and party roles.”

De Haas said that, although it is “highly probable” that Ndlovu’s murder is politically motivated, the matter needs to be investigated further. 

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said that Ndlovu’s death is being investigated. “We don’t know the motive, and we are appealing to anyone who may have more information to come forward,” he said.“We are not aware of tensions between Abahlali baseMjondolo and the ANC”

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