GLEBELANDS SOLIDARITY MONTH:
13 MARCH – 13 APRIL
– Call for community support, solidarity, action and awareness –
Yesterday the 76th person* was killed at Glebelands since 13 March 2014. Two other men were shot during the same incident and were admitted to hospital.
Sources claim that around 14h30, a Polo with no number plates arrived between Blocks 53 and 49. Three strangers got out and bought a beer. A police vehicle was reportedly parked on the road next to the blocks but apparently left a short while after the Polo arrived. As soon as the police left the hit took place. Sources claim that it seemed that the deceased was specifically targeted and the other two men were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The gunfight apparently lasted almost 20 minutes.
After it was all over, Glebelands was reportedly crawling with police – 7 months too late for the 12 who died after it was reported to police and the provincial authorities that hitmen vowed to continue killing.
Community members have alleged the deceased was a feared hitman, but the motive for his assassination remains unknown at present. At Glebelands the criminal underworld is fluid and hitmen hired to take out a councilor one day, will aim their R5s on a taxi boss the next, engage in a little peace committee member hunting the following day, and round off the week with a hijack or two.
The deceased was also rumoured to be close to the notorious Durban Central SAPS detective who allegedly recruits and arms Glebelands’ many hitmen.
“THERE CAN BE NO PEACE AT GLEBELANDS”
During a meeting convened last week by Glebelands’ peace facilitator, Sbu Xulu, (after months of ignoring the slaughter) community leaders repeated demands made since 2012: “There can be no peace at Glebelands until action is taken against those causing it. Recall the ward councilor; disband and allow the community to freely and fairly re-elect a new branch executive committee; and arrest police members involved in collusion, corruption and torture – remove Umlazi SAPS.”
After the murder of ANC councilor, Zodwa Sibiya, last year, a shocked police officer had said, “Glebelands will not be free until God takes Mzobe!”
Whatever wild and variable excuses the authorities have made over the years for the sustained carnage, and despite the increasing number of voices silenced by hitmen’s bullets, community leaders have remained steadfast in their struggle for accountable administration and proper community consultation.
Of course, this situation need never have been if the various state departments had done what they were supposed to be doing and politicians had kept their grubby hands out of the criminal justice system and public purse.
After the former Public Protector’s report unequivocally substantiated the community’s claims about the police, eThekwini Municipality and Department of Social Development, surely no one can be left in any doubt that the mayhem at Glebelands has been orchestrated by certain state players to serve certain political and economic interests, while other state players, who, at the very least, must be fully aware of what’s going on, have stood back and allowed it to continue.
DEMOCRACY DIED AT GLEBELANDS
However, irrespective of who was killed / evicted / threatened / tortured for whatever reason on whoever’s orders; the following facts are undisputable:
- South Africa cannot claim to be a constitutional democracy while Glebelands continues to disintegrate;
- For hostel dwellers, especially Glebelands residents, constitutional rights have no meaning and remain utterly inaccessible;
- Living conditions for hostel dwellers have changed little since apartheid rule – especially the tendency for politicians to use hostel communities as convenient power blocs and, since 94, as voting fodder;
- This anarchy would never have been allowed to persist anywhere other than in a very poor, marginalized community;
- The ANC has used and continues to abuse the Glebelands community while opposition parties, so called institutions of accountability, the public and most of civil society has allowed it;
- For too long those who could and should have taken a stand against the mayhem have permitted themselves to be comforted by waters muddied by disinformation (authorities claimed the violence was caused by ‘bed-selling’, fights over women, ‘old grudges’ – never the truth) and false claims of “successful security measures” (which of course justified MORE tenders and allegedly crooked contracts from which more funds could be bled to ruling party coffers and their allies);
- Extreme socioeconomic hardship, unemployment, inequality, poverty and degrading and unhealthy living conditions that strip residents of their dignity leave too many young men without hope of a future, but with easy access to illegal firearms, and vulnerable to recruitment as hitmen, for which, particularly in KZN, there is a ready market;
- Be it a hitman or an innocent child – too many lives have been lost at Glebelands.
The question we must now ask ourselves is, are we going to allow this to continue until the last community leader is gunned down?
13 March 2014 marked the beginning of the state’s involvement in the Glebelands slaughter with the murder of former block chairperson, Zinakile Fica who was tortured – tubed to death by a detective and other members of the Umlazi SAPS – and accused of crimes he did not commit. Police have targeted many other former block committee members since then. No officer has been held accountable for Fica’s murder.
Since Fica’s death at least 13 other community members have been brutally tortured and many others assaulted, robbed, forcibly photographed, falsely arrested, placed under what would seem to be illegal surveillance, coerced to pay bribes, or had their homes and belongings vandalized by police. Officers’ involvement in the violence and in other criminal activities has been well documented and information at times provided by informants from within the service itself. Not one SAPS member has been held to account.
On 13 April 2014, exactly a month after Fica’s death, ANC women’s league members marched ahead of a group of thugs in a brutal attack on the first block chairman at Block 57. He was evicted and lost all he possessed when his room was later ransacked – allegedly with police cooperation – and petrol bombed.
Wave after wave of evictions followed, including many vulnerable women and children. The socioeconomic fallout and human rights abuses were devastating and felt as far as the Eastern Cape, yet reports of the community’s suffering failed to move the SAHRC or religious leaders to conclusive action.
Before and after these incidents, community leaders repeatedly cited the ANC’s hidden hand in the Glebelands slaughter. Many have directly accused the ward councilor, the BEC and tame cops – right up the chain of command – for the violence. Too many of these individuals are now dead (some gunned down at court) for this to be an unfortunate, recurring coincidence. There is never smoke without fire.
Some claim the ward councilor is of the same clan as the president and enjoys his unwavering support. Others, including former ANC councilors, allege the councilor and his handlers are critically placed to ensure a steady flow of funds from hostel budgets via questionable tenders using politically connected contractors for personal and party enrichment.
The astounding disparity between vast hostel budgets – including the ineffectual millions allocated for ‘security measures’ – and ground level delivery provides ample evidence to justify a full forensic audit and investigation into these allegations. Even the police have suggested this would effectively staunch the blood that flows from Glebelands.
Nowhere in our country has the impact of an increasingly authoritarian, brutal, corrupt, greedy and paranoid regime been more obvious or devastating, than at Glebelands. With the exception of the Cape Flats ganglands, nowhere else has the rule of law and the criminal justice system broken down quite to the degree that has been permitted at Glebelands.
While many civil society organisations highlight the difficulties faced by poor communities when trying to access their rights and exercise their democratic freedoms; at Glebelands, the constitution is dead. Democracy is dead. Both are buried deep under the corpses of a community on which our country has turned its back.
From March 13 this year, Glebelands will be moving into its fourth year of almost continuous violence. How much longer must this community suffer? How much longer will we allow it?
CALL FOR GLEBELANDS SOLIDARITY MONTH: 13 MARCH – 13 APRIL
We therefore appeal to all progressive organisations, spiritual leaders, civic groups, the media, and concerned individuals, to use the month from 13 March to 13 April to speak out against what is taking place at Glebelands.
The community’s demands are simple:
- Recall ward 76 councilor Robert Mzobe;
- Disband the branch executive committee and allow the free and fair election of representatives chosen by the community;
- Remove Umlazi SAPS and replace with officers from other areas who are rotated regularly;
- Arrest and prosecute ALL SAPS members involved in corruption, torture and those colluding with killers;
- Initiate a fully independent forensic investigation and audit of all tender process and contracts;
- Ensure proper community engagement, consultation and involvement in all hostel-related decision-making processes;
- Full compensation for all violence victims.
SUPPORT GLEBELANDS SOLIDARITY MONTH FROM 13 MARCH TO 13 APRIL BY:
- Supporting the community’s demands, either officially via your organization or as a concerned individual;
- Raising awareness about the human rights violations and constitutional contraventions that have taken place;
- Holding solidarity events;
- Protesting against government’s failure;
- Demanding accountability, meaningful action, and full community participation in all processes that effect them;
- Putting pressure on political parties – the opposition as well as the ruling party;
- Lobbying leaders to loudly condemn the Glebelands crisis as a national disgrace – if you are a leader – speak out yourself;
- Holding church services to commemorate those who have lost their lives as well as to mourn the death of democracy and the constitution at Glebelands;
- Visiting the community, talking to the people and engaging firsthand with the issues so you cannot be lied to by government;
- Using social media to broadcast the fact that hostel dwellers’ lives DO matter;
- Demanding a better life for hostel dwellers;
- Demanding an end to apartheid era housing;
- Reminding government of its obligations to the Freedom Charter, Constitution and Bill of Rights, particularly in respect to those previously disadvantaged by the apartheid system;
- Helping the community to get proper legal representation to force government to compensate all violence victims;
- Calling for an end to the carnage and an end to government’s lies;
- Doing whatever you can towards peace at Glebelands.
#Glebe76 = too many DEAD!!!
SUPPORT GLEBELANDS SOLIDARITY MONTH – 13 MARCH TO 13 APRIL
(Independent Community Activist for Human Rights & Social Justice)
[* The victim’s name is withheld until all family members have been notified.]