Archive for the ‘KwaMashu’ Category

Occupy COP17 Activists Stage Protest at South African Embassy in London

UN Climate Conference Leaves People Homeless Amit Torrential Deadly Storms

In solidarity with the 31 families from Durban who were unlawfully evicted for the UN’s COP17 Climate Change Conference, activists from the Occupy COP17 movement will stage a colourful protest at the South African Embassy in London, England. At 3:30pm on Thursday 5 January, they will gather with giant cardboard cut-outs of the community members in an international solidarity action that aims to draw local and international attention to put pressure local Councillor Lucky Mdlalose to provide immediate housing for these 31 families.

Just days before the international summit last November, residents of KwaMashu Above (an area north of Durban) had their houses destroyed and all their possessions and food stolen from them in an unlawful eviction. There were told by local officials that they were making the place look untidy for visiting dignitaries and so were being moved on. The next night, as members of this community crouched in the rain under plastic bags in the spaces where their houses used to stand, Mwempi Caka caught a chill and died soon after. To this day, this community of grandmothers, mothers, babies and sons sleep each night on the floors of the kind neighbours that surround the empty land where their own houses once stood. Weeks later, this community is still without shelter and is being ignored by their local government.

“The municipality said we were messing up the community and they didn’t want the people coming to Durban for the United Nations conference to see us,” said Jabulile Mdlalose, 36, who is now one of the displaced. “They are ashamed of us. We have nowhere to go in our own country.”

Article 26, Section 3 of the South African Constitution States: “No one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances.” The PIE act was also violated: “whether people have been living lawfully or unlawfully they cannot be evicted without there being alternative accommodation.”

This creative action is part of an ongoing international campaign, that began in Durban, in support of the community from KwaMashu Above.

On Friday, there will be an international “Call-In”, with people from all over the world calling the office of Councillor Lucky Mdlalose’s to put further pressure on him for immediate action. Please join us this Friday by calling Councillor Lucky Mdlalose at +27 822565398 to demand that he respect the constitutional rights of these families and provide them with immediate housing.


No Christmas in KwaMashu Above

If you don’t have a chimney Santa Claus can’t slip down it. If you don’t have a table you can’t lay it out with food. If you don’t have a door you cannot hang a wreath, or open it to your family. Christmas was stolen in KwaMashu Above. Weeks ago, the police came and smashed up their only houses, kicked their only doors to pieces and stole all their food. Their legacy remains as a pile of rubble on the sunny hillside where once a community was building a most meager life.

They cried to me last week: “Christmas is coming and we have no where to go.” They sleep packed together on kind neighbor’s floors.

There will be no presents opened, for there is not even a space in which to open them. No rooms for them to wrap them in, no kitchen for them to laugh in as they stir their rice. All that remains now are the shattered rooftiles that each week break into smaller pieces, the black circles where their hearths used to be, and hope.

I am no longer with the occupiers in KwaMashu Above. I will not come on a sleigh with a magic sack and pull toys for all the children who are so good they don’t cry when there is no food. I have no gift for them but hope. Two weeks ago 40 community members from KwaMashu Above joined OccupyCOP17 outside the failing UN COP17 Climate Conference that was the pretext for their evictions. They shared their story. In the yellow light of a street-lamp, the young boys acted out the sincerity of their struggle. We watched in Zulu as they were beaten, their homes destroyed, and they were forced to leave with nothing. The only words we understood were “COP17”.

We did not give them homes on that night, but they told us we gave them hope. No one, no one, had reached out to them since they lost everything. Our message was simple: you are not alone – there are occupations all over the world that stand with you. On this Christmas, that is the gift we can give to them: solidarity. That they might know they are not alone in the darkness of the shortest night of the year. That we are there with them in KwaMashu Above, edging justice towards the light – and that we will not rest until Boese has a pot to stir again, and Kia has a bed to sleep in.

When Pandora’s box was opened, and everything escaped into this wild world – the thing that remained was hope. As they sit in the rubble that once their dreams inhabited, they do not sit alone – their hopes sing with ours and strengthen both. The loss of justice is everyone’s loss, wherever it might be. No one is free until everyone is free.

Keep following OccupyCOP17 for updates on the ongoing legal process, and how you can help KwaMashu Above get their houses back.


Occupy KwaMashu & vigil for Climate Justice

A few of us from #OccupyCop17 were contacted last week by a community in KwaMashu, a nearby township to Durban, and were invited to go hear their story. The General Assembly agreed to send members of the assembly to go meet with them. The community had been evicted from their homes to build a road for the World Cup, and never received any compensation or help. They then built homes using materials they bought with their own money on vacant land. Two weeks ago they were evicted and told that they were “dirtying” Durban for the COP17. Their homes were then destroyed by police and the building materials stolen. They also took their food and clothing. The community, including about 12 children,  is now sleeping on neighbors floors after spending a week sleeping on the land where their houses had been – too afraid of the police to set up tents or build structure, so sleeping under plastic bags and sticks. During the police raid, a woman fleeing broke her leg in two places. During the abnormally strong rain-storm the day before the COP, one man from their community got sick, went to the hospital, and died.

Tomorrow this community from KwaMashu are coming to the #occupycop17 / Speakers Corner Space (4 min walk from ICC, corner of Walnut and Braam Fischer) for the 7pm General Assembly. The children from the community had previously created a play about the eviction, and will perform it tomorrow. We want to help share their story, to remind the world of the role justice plays in the climate debate. Pablo Solon and others will also be participating in the General Assembly, which will be followed by an all-night vigil for Climate Justice at the same location.