COMMOTION ERUPTS AT THE DURBAN CITY HALL
Written by: Venal Naidu and Preleen Alexandria Pillay
Commotion erupted at the Durban City Hall as members of Abahlali Basemjondolo tried to force themselves through a barricade of police officers after Mayor Zandile Gumede refused to receive their memorandum.
Over a thousand people from the ‘shack dwellers’ movement gathered at Curries Fountain as the march made its way to the City Hall.
The demands that they wanted were the restoration of their dignity and an end to violent. Demands also included elimination of brutal evictions as they persisted on their fight for land, housing and dignity for all.
The march itself did not spark any violence. Members of the organisation made their way with jubilant songs and dances.
“We are marching because the government made us promises and we still haven’t received them,” said Christopher Sithole.
On arrival at the City Hall, speeches and songs were carried out by many of the organisation’s leaders.
However, frustration soon mounted when the mayor was not anywhere to be seen, as protesters did not want to hand over the memorandum to anyone except the mayor herself.
Members than decided that if the mayor was not going to receive the memorandum, they would enter the municipal offices and personally hand it over to her.
A large crowd decided to force themselves through police barricade. However, the police firmly protected the entrance with their protective shields.
After some minutes of trying to run through the officers, marchers eventually gave up and decided to go back to their original places.
Abahlali General Secretary and convener of the march, Thapelo Mohapi, explained that the march was a result of the violence against civillians.
“This march is a consolidation of the brutal attacks that have been taking place around the city because we feel that the municipality is at war with all the harmless people,” said Mohapi.
Mohapi alleged that whilst a 29-year-old man was trying to build a shelter for himself, he was shot and killed by the anti-land provision unit.
“The memorandum speaks about the brutalism. We are saying that black people have the right to the city. We are saying that black people have the right to the land,” Mohapi added.
Abahlali said that they were promised an end to evictions and repression.
“It is very disappointing that a democratic government is doing the same thing that the nationalist government did to us,” Mohapi concluded.
The memorandum was eventually delivered to a representative sent by the MEC of Cooperative Governance.
Caption: Marchers try to force their way through the entrance of the Durban City Hall.