According to reports from the Kennedy Road community, an informal settlement in Durban, a group of heavily armed men have attacked leaders of the democratically elected Kennedy Road Development Committee, and intimidated participants at an Abahlali baseMjondolo Youth League camp, resulting in at least four deaths, many injuries, and homes destroyed.
The struggle of the people of Kennedy Road to live in dignified conditions, as promised by the Constitution, has been well documented and their fight to realize these rights commendable. Speculations over the cause of the violence can only fuel further attacks but silence in the face of it is unacceptable. The situation, therefore, requires urgent State intervention to restore peace and, as Sibusiso Zikode asks, requires “close and careful scrutiny of the nature of democracy in South Africa.”
The Development Action Group (DAG) and the Housing and Land Rights Network of Habitat International Coalition (HIC-HLRN), therefore, support the open letter (29 September 2009) from Friends of Abahlali baseMjondolo Shackdwellers Movement to the President calling for serious and decisive intervention into the situation in the pursuit of justice and protection of democracy. We urge all organisations and members of the public to support Abahlali’s call for impartial state intervention to stop the violence.
The violation of the residents of Kennedy Road affects all of us. As fellow South Africans, we are concerned with this hateful treatment and as responsible citizens we are required to speak out against injustice. History shows us that evil can only prosper when we are silent. The media has been very quiet on these violent attacks despite the loss of life. Human rights atrocities generally start with hateful utterances and small acts of violence which go unnoticed. It is this kind of responsible action that brought Apartheid to its knees and finally ushered in a democratic order. By turning our attention to this issue in the most public ways possible, we want to prevent further violations in Kennedy Road and stop it from spreading.
This statement is supported by DAG’s partner communities from Hangberg Insitu Development Association in Hout Bay, the Freedom Park Development Association in Mitchell’s Plain and the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Alliance, who sympathise with the tragic events at Kennedy Road and extend their support and solidarity to the community.
DAG Programme Manager