Three Murders in
Three people were
murdered in Sisonke Village, in Lamontville, on Sunday, including our
chairperson in the area Sibonela Mpeku.
Our members gave
Sisonke Village its new name on 13 July 2014 and our branch was launched there
on 9 November 2014. During that year we issued statements noting that the local
ANC had tried to prevent us from holding meetings and had made serious threats
against our members. Since then there has been a long struggle in this area
with serious intimidation from the local ANC, including death threats, and at
least twenty four armed and illegal evictions. The comrades in the area have
rebuilt their homes again and again. They have remained on the land despite
regular violence and intimidation. They have organised road blockades and other
protests and taken their struggle to court.
On 28 March this year
we issued a statement noting that death threats had been made against our
members in the area by the local ANC.
On 3 November 2015 we
issued a statement noting the violence and intimidation against our members by
the local ANC and the police, the blatant discrimination against people from
the Eastern Cape and that our attempts to meet with the ward councillor, and
our letters to her asking her to intervene in the situation, had gone
In 2014 and 2015 we
repeatedly went to court to stop the violent and unlawful evictions in the
area. We won victories in the Durban High Court and in the Constitutional Court
protecting our members against these evictions.
Sibonela Mpeku, has lived under constant death threats and intimidation from
local ANC structures since 2014. These threats were reported to the structures
in our movement and, in writing, to the councillor of the area, the ward
committee, the Branch Executive Committee of the ANC, the ANC Regional
Secretary as well as to the Lamontville Police Station. We received no
responses to these letters and reports.
Our movement has also
held meetings in the community to denounce these threats, to oppose the politic
of blood and death, and to argue for democracy to be built and defended from
below, and for unity in the struggle for land and dignity.
However despite our
protests, our letters, our attempts to meet with various people in the ANC and
our numerous actions in court no attempt has been made to address the political
gangsterism in the area. This failure has now had tragic consequences including
the loss of three lives in one day.
On Sunday, 19 November
at about 11am the Abahlali Youth League had a meeting in Sisonke Village. Our
local chairperson, Mpeku, was there at the invitation of our youth structure.
The meeting went well without any threats or intimidation.
On the same afternoon
at about 15pm, Fiza Madlala called a community meeting. Madlala used to claim
to own the land in the area and he used to sell land to people. He was with the
ANC and had been hostile to our movement in the name of the ANC, and with the
support of the police. However when he realised that he had lost support he
started moving away from the ANC. This resulted in some tensions between him
and the ANC. He had apologised to us for his conduct. As a result we were
building a working relationship with him. Some of our members, including Mpeku,
attended the meeting called by Madlala.
The meeting was
chaired by Madlala and our comrades engaged well in that meeting. But while
Madlala was on the podium addressing the meeting an unknown young man walked
into the meeting. He was carrying a knife and he went straight to Madlala and
stabbed him in full view of the community. That man was then chased by
community members. He was quickly caught and stoned to death. Madlala was
rushed to hospital but he passed away.
At about 11pm Mpeku
was kidnaped by unknown men while he was sleeping in his shack. He was dragged
outside his shack and stabbed. He was screaming for help as he was dragged
away. While Mpeku’s brother was searching for his brother he saw someone known
in the community, a man who owns two shebeens, running away. When Mpeku’s
brother tried to ask him why he was running he chopped his hand with a bush
knife. Mpeku’s brother sustained serious injuries and had to be rushed to
hospital as well. An hour after he was kidnapped Mpeku’s body was found. He was
covered with blood and had terrible wounds.
We do not yet know the
identity of the young man who murdered Madlala, what his motive for the murder
was or who he is associated with. We do
not yet know why Mpeku was murdered, or who murdered him. All kinds of rumours
are flying around. Some of these rumours are highly contradictory. But at the
moment we do not have clear evidence as to why Madlala and Mpeku were murdered.
Comrade Mpeku was 32
years of age. He was the elected chairperson of our movement in our Sisonke
Village branch and an elected member of our KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Council.
He was a very kind cadre and a quiet and thoughtful man held in high respect in
his community and in the movement. Mpeku was one of our cadres whose lived
experience best demonstrated the kind of society we are struggling to build
every day. In October this year Mpeku was one of the six delegates of Abahlali
who represented our movement in a solidarity exchange visit and learning in
As impoverished black
people in South Africa our lives count for nothing. We can be evicted,
tortured, slandered, beaten, threatened and murdered with impunity. We struggle
every day, year after year, against this vandalization of our humanity and to
insist that all lives must count as human lives.
We have won many
victories. We have occupied and held land. We have won services. We have driven
repression back. We have occupied all kinds of spaces that oppression has
denied to us. But still, after more than ten years of struggle, a struggle that
has mobilised tens of thousands of people and cost the lives of a number of our
comrades, we continue to be treated as disposable, as rubbish, as animals.
All our efforts to
call on the government, the ruling party and police to put an end to the
politic of blood and political gangsterism have failed. We are not safe. We do
not live in a democracy. We live every day knowing that the struggle for land
and dignity will continue to cost the lives of our comrades. None of us is
We call upon all
progressive forces and people to work with us to name and expose the monster
politic of blood that has characterised the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Every
murder must be fully and fairly investigated and all perpetrators, no matter
their political affiliations and connections, must be prosecuted, convicted and
sentenced. Impunity must end.
No arrest has yet been
made in this matter. We call on the police to ensure a speedy, fair and
credible investigation into the murder of all three of the people who died in
Sisonke Village on Sunday. Justice must be served. The perpetrators must be
brought to book.
Our thoughts and
sympathies are with the families of the three men who were murdered on Sunday.
We also wish to note that
many of our branches are facing a new wave of intimidation and threats. Local
ANC structures are saying that it is now time to put an end to the ‘red shirts’
(Abahlali baseMjondolo) and threatening to drive our comrades out of their
homes or kill them. Right now comrades are in hiding in Lindelani, Asiyindawo
and Clare Estate.
(President) 083 547 0474
(General Secretary) 072 072 0686
Land & Dignity!