'Attackers associated with ANC'

2009-09-28 22:36
Durban - Local and international academics on Monday condemned attacks on a Durban informal settlement which claimed two lives and saw 30 shacks destroyed at the weekend.

"We note with concern the reports of the violent attacks on members of the Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement (ABM) in the Kennedy Road informal settlement," said academics in a joint statement.

Two people were fatally assaulted and stabbed, and scores were injured when about 40 men carrying assegais, knobkerries, spears and guns attacked them.

They attacked the settlement during a youth camp held by the Abahlali baseMjondolo (ABM) movement.

Attackers associated to ANC - reports

Academics, who included Toussaint Losier of the University of Chicago, said the attacks were reportedly carried out by "people associated with the local branch of the ANC".

The ANC was not immediately available to comment.

Other academics who signed the petition included Steven Friedman, the director for the Centre for Democracy at the University of Johannesburg, and Henrike Donner of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The academics also alleged that the attackers were actively supported by officers of the SA Police Service, a claim that police denied.

"We note reports that the officers of the Sydenham Police Station were complicit in these attacks, were present at the scene, and did nothing to stop them," academics said.

Internationally recognised group

They said ABM was a peaceful and internationally respected community-based organisation which worked to improve the living conditions of the shack dwellers.

ABM had also written a letter to President Jacob Zuma detailing how its members were attacked.

"Reports from the informal settlement of seven thousand people indicate that horrors reminiscent of apartheid's darkest years are currently being perpetrated," the letter read.

ABM said "thugs" had killed members of the local development committee and destroyed their houses.

Words of hate

The letter states that the attackers uttered slogans such as:"The AmaMpondo are taking over Kennedy. Kennedy is for the AmaZulu".

"With these words of hate, members of the development committee have been hunted and, in at least one case, killed. What appals us most about these attacks is that they appear to be happening with the support of local police and politicians."

By 18:30 on Monday, said KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Director Phindile Radebe, the situation was calm around the area where the attack took place.

"We have deployed our members there to monitor the situation."

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