South African Shack Dwellers killed in fight for decent housing

2 June 2017 - 11:30am

This week, a two week old baby was killed during a police assault on the Foremen Road informal settlement in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal. Two days before Baby Jayden Khoza was killed, community leader, Mthunzi 'Ras' Zuma was shot dead after a massive land occupation in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. 

Members of Abahlali baseMjondolo held a protest at the Foreman Road shack settlement when the settlement was excluded from the goverment's urban planning budget process. Abhalali was demanding the right to be included in that process when they came under brutal police assault. Jayden Khoza was killed. 

"In South Africa, impoverished black people are treated like dirt. We can be killed like animals. It is taken as normal that we should live in the mud, raise our children in constant fires, be driven out of our homes and the cities with bulldozers and rubber bullets and beaten, tortured, slandered and murdered when we gather together and insist on our recognition of our human dignity", said S'bu Zikode, Chairperson of Abahlali baseMjondolo 

  (Social housing with a backyard informal house)

Across the country, in Cape Town, a large land occupation has been taking place in Khayelitsha. Hundred of backyarders, tired of renting and living with their parents in overcrowded conditions, occupied several vacant pieces of land owned by the CIty of Cape Town and the Western Cape government. A car pulled up to the occupation site, asked 'Ras' Zuma what was going on and after he explained, they shot him in the head. 

The struggle for land, housing and dignity has always been brutal and violent. In the last four years, Abahlali have lost four of its members through state-sanctioned violence. Despite the calls for the right to decent housing, the right to be be visible and heard by government, the right to live lives of dignity, housing movements like Abahlali feel that the government of South Africa does not seem to be responding with a plan to assist them. It continues to build gap housing for people who are employed yet there are thousands of unemployed people living in shacks in informal settlements and in backyards - quickly being forgotten by the government - until movements, like Abahlali baseMjondolo hold protests, drawing attention to their struggles.  

(Abahlali baseMjondolo fighting for the right to be included in their city (c) ABM)

Abahlali have issued a statement saying that they are demanding that a post-mortem be conducted on baby Jayden by an independent doctor. They are preparing a legal case to bring criminal charges against the police. Abahlali will continue to organise and to mobilse for land, housing and dignity. They have pldeged their committment to keep building the power of the oppressed and to struggle for a just society - a society in which every human life is counted as a human life. 

To show solidarity with the community of Foreman Road and with Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Abahlali baseMjondolo UK Solidarity Group will be holding a demonstration on the 6 June at the South African High Commission.  Please join us to show your support and solidarity. Stand with the shack dwellers of South Africa as they fight for lives of dignity and the right to decent housing. 

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