The Kennedy 12 Return to Court for Part Two of their Trial
Abahlali baseMjondolo will return to the Durban magistrate’s court on Tuesday, 3 May 2011, to support the twelve men who have become victims of the political conspiracy to disguise the reality of the armed attack on our movement that took place in the Kennedy Road settlement on the 26th and 27th of September 2009. That attack displaced hundreds of women, men and children and the resulting conflicts left some people with serious injuries and two people dead.
The armed attack on our movement was carried out in the name of the ANC and the disastrous politics of ethnicity. The attack was publicly endorsed by senior figures in the ANC and for many months afterwards a mob associated with the local ANC continued to destroy the homes of our leading members in the settlement with complete impunity. The police never once stepped in to stop the ongoing destruction of our homes despite repeated pleas for them to intervene.
Our call for an independent commission of inquiry into the attacks was ignored and the police investigation into the violence was turned into a political witch-hunt. During the bail hearings even the magistrates made it clear that this was a 'political case' and the open bias in court was incredible. Our leading members were openly threatened with death in public places, like the court, and for months we had to organise underground.
The repeated screening of video footage of the police murder of Andries Tatane on the TV news has shocked the middle classes. It has awoken some of their civil society organisations from their long political sleep. We were deeply saddened to watch another comrade being attacked by the police. But we were not shocked. Our peaceful requests to speak to the government about the conditions in our communities have been met with repeated violence since 2005. Our members have been regularly attacked by the police, the Land Invasions Unit and Group4 Security. We have been shot with rubber bullets, water canons, stun grenades and live ammunition. We have been beaten and we have been tortured.
We are not alone in suffering this violent repression from the police, land invasion units and private security companies. The Landless People’s Movement in Johannesburg and Abahlali baseMjondolo and the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign in Cape Town, as well as other movements and many smaller community organisations, have had similar experiences. It has also been common for activists to be threatened by ward councillors and local party structures and to have these people and structures order the police to attack activists.
But the attack on our movement in Kennedy Road in September 2009 marked a new phase in repression in our democracy – a democracy that has always had political freedom for the rich and the middle classes and a politics of patronage and repression for the poor. It is one thing to be attacked by the police or securities. It is another thing to be attacked by other poor people that have been mobilised, on an ethnic basis, against an independent movement by the ruling party and given the support of the police to attack, to threaten, to demolish homes and to drive all the leading members of a movement out of a community.
After we suffered this attack in September 2009, and the ongoing destruction of our homes and harassment of our members in the following months, the Landless Peoples Movement suffered similar attacks during 2010. Many of us were reminded of the xenophobic attacks of May 2008 and the political violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in the 1980s.
The ANC seized control of the Kennedy Road settlement with violence. It took some time for it to be taken back to democratic control, under the new Kennedy Road Development Committee. This was achieved peacefully by people standing together against intimidation.
Phase one of the trial of the Kennedy 12 started on the 29th November and ran to the 3rd of December 2010. During that week the state bought five witnesses the court. Not one of them was able to give any evidence linking any of the accused to the two deaths which the state has claimed that the twelve are responsible for. Four of the five witnesses admitted that the police had told them who to pick out in the line-up and one witness refused to testify for the state. She then became a court witness and testified that the police had tried to force her to give false evidence against the accussed. She also testified that in her view it was the Kennedy Road ANC that were responsible for the attack. After the court case death threats were made against her and she was attacked in her home and warned not to continue to tell the truth in court. if she had not been supported by our neighbours she may have been killed in this attack.
The attack on our movement in September 2009 was a political attack carried out with the support of senior people in the ANC and the police. This trial has always been a political trial.
Our real crime in the eyes of the ANC in Durban has been that we organised ourselves outside of their control. We have been accused of running our own authority. We do not deny this. It is not a crime for the unorganised to organise themselves. Our crime has been to define ourselves as people who do not count in our society and to issue a clear demand - we want to count as people who are equal to everyone else in our society. We want our dignity back. We do not compromise on that. We are prepared to struggle on the streets and in the court rooms to win our dignity back. We will continue to insist that our equality with all other people is recognised and that it is recognised practically.
Abahlali wish to invite all our comrades in the Poor People's Alliance, all our friends and colleagues, the Church leaders and the media to come and bare witness to the trial and to express solidarity with the Kennedy 12, whose families have been torn apart by this cruel attempt to make them responsible for the attack. Abahlali wish to express their continuous gratitude for all the support we continue to enjoy from our comrades nationally and international. We want to assure you that we continue to stand by our Amandla when circumstances are difficult. We are struggling for our lives and the lives of our children and so we can never give up. We are not prepared to accept oppression and so for us there is no alternative other than to keep on struggling.
The trial will resume at 9h00, at Durban Regional court, Y Court, 11th Floor.
For more information or comment contact:
Abahlali Youth League Secretary
Mobile: 071 183 4388
Abahlali baseMojondolo Secretary
Mobile: 071 4242 815
For more about Abahlali baseMojondolo, refer to http://www.abahlali.org.
For more about Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, refer to www.antieviction.org.za.
For more about Khayelitsha struggles, refer to www.khayelitshastruggles.com.
To view other NGO press releases, refer to www.ngopulse.org/group/home-page/pressreleases.