South African police shot dead a 17 year old girl, Nqobile Nzuza, at a housing protest in the settlement of Cato Crest, Durban, on Monday. Nqobile is the third person to be shot dead in Cato Crest this year. The two previous victims, Nkululeko Gwala and Thembinkosi Qumelo, were both active members of the shack-dwellers' movement Abahlali baseMjondolo.
When Abahlali baseMjondolo leader Bandile Mdlalose arrived at the scene of the murder on Monday to offer her condolences to Nqobile's family, she was arrested. World Development Movement local groups will remember Bandile from her visit to the UK in 2011 to talk about climate justice ahead of the UN climate talks in Durban.
World Development Movement director Nick Dearden has written to South African president Jacob Zuma to express grave concern at the killings and the arrest of Bandile - the text of the letter is below.
We are also joining a protest organised by War on Want outside the South African High Commission in London today, 4.30pm-7pm. Please join us if you can.
Bandile Mdlalose, secretary-general of shack-dwellers' movement Abahlali baseMjondolo
Letter to President Zuma
President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Jacob Zuma
Private Bag X1000
Cc the South African Embassy
3 October 2013
To His Excellency President Jacob Zuma,
I am writing to you from World Development Movement, a British campaign organisation which works in alliance with social movements across the world.
In 2011 we hosted Bandile Mdlalose, Secretary General of Abahlali baseMjondolo, in the UK. This week we have heard that Bandile has been arrested and that South African Police have shot dead a 17 year old girl, Nqobile Nzuza. Nqobile is the third person killed in the settlement of Cato Crest, Durban, this year. Nkululeko Gwala and Thembinkosi Qumelo – active members of Abahlali – have also been gunned down, but no investigation has been launched into either of these cases.
Naturally I would like to express my deepest concern at these events.
Abahlali baseMjondolo is a community-based group advocating for the provision of basic services to informal settlements and for an end to forced evictions in South Africa. One of its founding premises is that “Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing” and that “Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected”, as enshrined in the South African Constitution.
We believe that evictions are taking place in Cato Crest, despite court injunctions against them – a key reason for the protests. No investigations into any of the shootings has been launched and no arrests have been made. Abahlali baseMjondolo is working to uphold the South African constitution.
I call for the immediate release of Bandile Mdlalose and for all charges to be dropped, an investigation into the killings that have taken place, and an immediate end to the evctions and violence in Cato Crest.
I look forward to hearing from you.
World Development Movement