The news of police and municipal violations of protection orders secured by the people of Cato Crest to protect their shack homes signifies appalling disrespect for the lives and livelihoods of people who have little to fall back on apart from their solidarity.
It is also a shocking display of disrespect for the rule of law by organs of the state.
-------- Khulumani endorses the statement issued by church leaders on the crisis in Cato Crest.
Full statement by KwaZulu Natal Church Leaders' Group endorsed by: Church Land Programme and Diakonia Council of Churches:
Destroying our lives – in Cato Crest
Today, we found ourselves where we have been too often before – at the Durban court awaiting a decision on bail for another shack dweller charged with public violence. Again – bail denied; on what grounds it is not clear.
Why another bail hearing? What has led to us as clergy being here again this day?
Over the past few months and weeks we have heard:
- of illegal evictions and demolition of homes in Cato Crest by the Land Invasion Unit;
- of alleged fraudulent selling and allocation of houses in Cato Crest by local political leadership;
- of several court interdicts secured by Abahlali protecting their homes, and the same interdicts despised and ignored by city officials and political leadership;
- of intimidation by local ANC leadership and members in Cato Crest, of the legal teams that were attempting to give effect to the court's orders of restraining the city from demolishing people’s houses, and restraining them from further evictions, and instructing the city to rebuild people’s houses that were demolished;
- of the shooting by the Land Invasion Unit and the SAPS of protesters asserting their rights – shot with rubber bullets and live ammunition. We visited today Nkosinathi Mngomezulu and Luleka Makhwenkwana who are still in hospital recovering from their wounds.
As those who follow Jesus, we will continue to be present with those who are denied access to land, denied houses for their families, denied a place in our society. We will be with:
- the family of Nqobile Nzuza, as they mourn the shooting of their 17 year old daughter;
- the three residents of Cato Crest that must appear in Durban court on Thursday 3 October to face charges of public violence;
- Bandile Mdlalose, the General Secretary of Abahlali as she remains in Westville prison awaiting her bail hearing on Monday 7 October;
- the residents of Cato Crest as they secure their place in our city.
We are outraged by:
- the failure of our state to provide the most basic of necessities to those that live in our city. Their actions undermine the dignity we hold on to.
- the contempt with which the city officials and political leadership disrespect and disobey the court injunctions. They have placed our society in great peril with their reckless and arrogant behaviour.
- the failure of the police to fulfil their mandate of protecting members of our society, but instead shoot, kill protesters and act outside of the law themselves. Their behaviour is destroying the fabric of our society.
- the short-sightedness and dishonesty of the leadership of our city, making promises of housing, knowing that these promises cannot be kept. This smacks of electioneering and sacrificing the lives of people for narrow, selfish political ends.
As we stated at the court this morning, we commit ourselves to:
- pray – for those suffering this inhumanity; for life to be sustained against the forces of death; for justice to flow down like water;
- protest – against the ongoing abuse of power; against the stripping of people's dignity; against the greed and dishonesty within our society;
- push – for an end to this deadly violence; for the inclusion of all in our city, with dignity and equity.
We urge others to act and stand with us as we resolve to build a society in which all belong and have a place.
Statement from the KwaZulu Natal Church Leaders' Group,
under the Chairpersonship of Bishop Rubin Phillip, Bishop of Natal and Dean of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.
Endorsed by: Church Land Programme and Diakonia Council of Churches
Issued 4 October 2013