eThekwini municipality slammed over 'unlawful' evictions

Residents of Enkanini in Cato Crest informal settlement in Durban. (Nomfundo Xolo)
Residents of Enkanini in Cato Crest informal settlement in Durban. (Nomfundo Xolo)

Advocacy group Right2Know (R2K) Campaign has strongly condemned the "inhumane action" allegedly taken by the eThekwini municipality against shack dwellers from eKhenana in Cato Crest.

The organisation said the municipality's action "may have resulted" in the death of Abahlali baseMjondolo member Senzo Gumede.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane previously confirmed Gumede's murder to News24.

"On 22 December 2018 at about 19:50, a 29-year-old male was allegedly shot and killed by unknown males at Cato Crest. He was found with gunshot wounds to the chest," said Zwane.

A case of murder was opened at Cato Manor police station for investigation, Zwane added.

"Although his death is not confirmed to be directly linked to the evictions, it is reported that Gumede was leading the struggle and has received a lot of threats", R2K said in a statement on Friday.

READ: Abahlali baseMjondolo files court papers over illegal evictions in Cato Crest

According to shack dwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo, the municipality has been demolishing and even burning down people's homes in that area since October this year.

"The City has no court order and has not provided alternative accommodation for eKhenana residents as required by the law, so we view these evictions as unlawful. It is in this regard that we support AbM (Abahlali baseMjondolo) which filed an urgent court application yesterday (Thursday) to prevent the evictions," R2K said.

Call for affordable housing

R2K said it was outraged by the "victimisation" of poor people who are battling to access affordable housing in this country.

"R2K fully supports the right of all South Africans, and more especially women and children, to access affordable housing. We have witnessed with grave concern how people are being violently evicted from their homes, often without due process and relevant information to protect their rights."

The group called on the government to prioritise access to affordable housing as the new year approached. 

"We cannot afford to act as if it's business as usual when marginalised communities are being ignored by elected representatives. We are tired of lip-service, we want practical delivery, participatory consultation and access to relevant information, especially around providing decent housing for the poor. 2019 national elections should be focused on eradicating homelessness and poverty in this country," said the advocacy group.

The organisation further called on government to take a stance against "paranoid, unaccountable and corrupt municipal officials who are hellbent on trampling on our rights".

Abahlali baseMjondolo spokesperson Thapelo Mohapi confirmed that the organisation had filed court papers in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on Thursday.

He told News24 that the matter was adjourned indefinitely.

"The municipality was granted time to prepare for their responding affidavits," he said.

Msawakhe Mayisela, eThekwini municipality spokesperson, was not immediately available for comment.

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