Thuli Ndlovu, the Abahlali baseMjondolo Chairperson in KwaNdengezi, was Assassinated last Night

Between half past six and seven last night an armed man burst into Thuli
Ndlovu’s home in KwaNdengezi while she was watching TV. He shot her seven
times and she died on the scene. There were two other people in the house at
the time. One was Sphe Madlala, an 18 year old neighbour. He finished matric
last year and did very well in physics and maths. Our movement has been trying
to help him to get into university. He had come to the house to help Thuli’s
17 year old daughter, Sli, with her matric studies in maths and science. Sphe
was also shot twice in the stomach but he survived. He underwent surgery at RK
Khan Hospital at one this morning and remains in a critical condition. Thuli’s
one year old son, Freedom, was also in the house at the time of the shooting.
He was not physically harmed. Sli was in a separate outside room with her
grandmother at the time of the shooting.

An hour before the incident Mduduzi Ngcobo, the local councillor who is known
as Nqola, was moving around near Thuli’s home in his black Navara. When she
saw Nqola hear her house Thuli told her mother that “today we are going to be
shot”. She also called one of her comrades in the movement to express her
concerns.

Thuli has often been intimidated and threatened by Nqola. The local police
always sided with Nqola. But she had a good relationship with an officer in
Provincial Crime Intelligence who she thought was more neutral. She would
inform him when there were meetings or when she felt unsafe. She was in Cape
Town this weekend for the relaunch of the Sweethome Farm branch of our
movement. While she was away she received a call from the local Station
Commissioner asking her to come to a meeting. This also happened to Ndabo
Mzimela from Cato Crest. When Ndabo attended the meeting he was warned to
leave the area or face assassination. Thuli only arrived back in KwaNdengezi
late on Sunday afternoon so we don’t know if she was able to get in touch with
the Commissioner.

KwaNdengezi is like a rural area and people live in their own houses and not
in shacks. They have an iNkosi and iziNduna. Land is allocated by the iziNduna
and is not paid for. Some people have the land rights papers known as
Permission to Occupy papers (PTOs) and other people don’t have papers. But the
right to occupy the land is not just a right on paper. It is recognised by all
the neighbours and is therefore a real and strong right. After 1994 the land
was taken over by the Municipality and the legal authority was shifted from
the iNkosi to a councillor.

The problems in KwaNdengezi started in 2010 when Nqola called a meeting to
announce that a housing project would be taking place in the area. Before
accepting the project the community raised concerns about their families’
grave yards. They said that a housing project should not frustrate people but
improve people’s lives. It was agreed that before the project starts another
community meeting will be called to discuss how it should be structured. It
was also agreed that as this is a community project therefore it should be
driven by the community.

However there no further meeting was called and the project was imposed on
people from above. Many attempts were made to meet with the Councillor but
when meetings were scheduled he did not attend them. After several times of
going to his office, the community leaders called the councillor and explained
that the agreement had not been kept. He promised to come to the community and
listen to the people’s grievances and try to find resolutions. But again he
did not do as he promised.

When this housing project started RDP houses were just built anywhere and
without any discussion or consultation. Some people found that two or three
houses were suddenly being built in their yards. Fences were just destroyed
and houses were built on their gardens and even next to or over their family
graves. There has been no respect for the dead. African people have a high
respect for the dead. This is an insult to the people and to their culture.
Also the houses are not being built for the people in the area. They are going
to people unknown in the area and the councillor is selling them. When people
complained about these houses being built in their yards and on their gardens
and graves they were told that their houses were shacks and that therefore
they have no ownership or say – no rights at all. However their houses are not
shacks. They were built on properly allocated land and are solid structures
having as many as five rooms in some cases.

The Inkosi in the area, Mr. B. Shozi, denies having signed any documents
authorising the Municipality to take over certain portions of land in the name
of development. The people in the area have not given their consent to this
development. Yet the Municipality has continued to do what it wants without
regard to the people living in KwaNdengezi. Nqola has responded to the
people’s concerns with serious intimidation including firing live ammunition
at people.

People in KwaNdengezi started joining our movement in early June 2012. One of
the community members had been following the Shallcross land occupation and
approached our movement for solidarity.

From the beginning our members faced serious intimidation in the area. During
a protest against corruption on Sunday 27 January 2013 people were threatened
at gunpoint by an MK Veteran who is one of those who is believed to have
bought a corrupted RDP house. We opened a case of intimidation against this
man but it was never investigated and he was never arrested.

Later that afternoon the same MK Veteran and Nqola came with the police and
pointed out which protesters they wanted the police to arrest. Four people
were arrested. All charges were later dropped due to a lack of any evidence
against the four comrades.

On 31 August that year the community had to protest once again against the
City's stealing of residents' yards, including their gardens and graves, and
the selling of the RDP houses that were being built. Nqola threatened to
shoot residents in the broad day light. A case of intimidation by the local
councillor was reported to the police in September 2012 (Case 197/09/2012).
But it was never investigated until today just like the case of intimidation
by Nigel Gumede that was reported to the police in 2011 after he made an open
threat against S'bu Zikode was never investigated.

On the 18th of November 2012 120 people, mainly women, participated in the
launch of the new Abahlali baseMjondolo branch in KwaNdengezi. Before the
launch there were several meetings. Nqola denied us the use of the hall and
tried to close down our meetings. He would be armed and accompanied by armed
men. There would be serious threats. Eventually we had the launch outside in a
tent.

On 2 March 2013 the Abahlali baseMjondolo Woman’s League had its General
Meeting. The KwaNdengezi branch was present and shared their painful story of
living under constant threat from their councillor and that they were not even
sleeping in their own homes due to threats. The Women’s League took a decision
to respond to the situation and on the 6th of March 2013 they entered and
occupied the Durban City Hall to demand that the serious accusations of
intimidation and corruption against Nqola be investigated. They demanded that
the City Council take his threats seriously and act to secure the safety of
our comrades in KwaNdengezi. The City Council did nothing. They said nothing.
Thuli’s blood is on their hands.

On the 29 March 2013, which was Good Friday, Dumisane Mdletshe went to the
home of a well-known, well respected and brave leader of our movement in
KwaNdengezi. He kicked open the door and entered the home. He had a bush
knife. He attacked her grandmother and her uncle and killed them both. They
were both members of our movement. He then asked for the comrade who had
escaped in the dark.

Mdletshe then went to another home, kwaShozi, which is about 2 kilometres
away. Here he attacked Mr. Shozi who is the father of another well known, well
respected and brave comrade. Mr Shozi fought back with the help of his sons.
They overpowered their attacker and called the police who arrested Mdletshe.

One the 19th of May 2013 there was another peaceful protest against Nqola's
corrupt and undemocratic allocation of houses. Eleven comrades were arrested.
Mandisi Shozi went to the police station to try and see his mother and to
check that she was ok. Nqola and his izinkabi (hit men) assaulted him outside
the police station. They have not been arrested for this assault. All charges
were dropped against the eleven comrades due to a lack of any evidence against
them.

On the 12th of July 2013 an Induna in KwaNdengezi by the name of Mr. Dingisono
Ndlovu was arrested by a team of police investigators who identified
themselves as coming from the Provincial Task Team. He was detained for two
days. When he was released he said that he had been tortured by the police
while in custody.

On the 22nd of October 2013 a road blockade was organised in protest at Nqola
and his corrupt housing project. Nqola came to the blockade with the police.
He was armed and he joined the police assault of the protestors. Thuli Ndlovu,
who was then the interim chairperson of our movement in the area, was singled
out for deliberate personal intimidation and assault.

That night Nqola arrived at Thuli’s home and started shouting threats and
shooting a gun outside her house. She and her family did not sleep that night.
The interim committee opened a case of intimidation against Nqola with the
local police. They knew that of course that a case against a councillor will
never be investigated but they wanted it to be on the record.

In November 2013 Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma made a report to Jacob Zuma to
investigate allegations of irregularities in the list processes for
councillors leading up to 2011 local-government elections. This report noted
that in in Ward 12 in KwaDengezi complaints included allegations that the ward
councillor was selling government houses and that “cases of corruption and
killing of people in their ward were brought to the police, the police never
did anything about the reported cases”. The task team recommended that Police
Minister Nathi Mthethwa “facilitate investigations of killings in that ward”.
No action was taken in response to their report. Thuli’s blood is also on
Mthethwa’s hands.

On the 16th of September this year our movement met with the Provincial MEC
for Housing and members of the ANC, SACP and SANCO structures in Cato Crest.
Serious threats were made against us. The focus of this intimidation was on
Ndabo Mzimela from Cato Crest. We started to get calls from the media who had
been approached by the ANC saying that ‘Durban is under siege from Abahlali
baseMjondolo’. There were warnings from within the ANC and the police. We know
the signs. We knew that another assassination was coming. But all the signs
pointed to Ndabo Mzimela being the one at risk.

On the 18th of September we had a good meeting with the Ngonyama Trust. They
were shocked to hear about what is happening in KwaNdengezi and promised to
respond to the issues. This would have been a threat to Nqola and others who
are profiting (legally and illegally) from development in the area

This weekend there was a spontaneous protest in the area against the corrupt
allocation of houses. Thuli was not part of this protest.

We had a meeting in KwaNdengezi today. People are really scared and shocked.
They don’t see much police visibility today.

Our movement is shocked but not surprised. We have accepted that some of us
will die in this struggle. We are well aware that our leaders have been
removed from the housing list and placed on the death lists. Many of us have
received threats. We knew that another assassination was coming. The only
surprise was that many of us were expecting that it would be Ndabo’s turn.
Senior police officers were also aware that another assassination was coming.
They have done nothing to give protection to our members.

Our deep condolences go to Thuli’s family, to her mother and her children. We
will do all that we can to support them and to make sure that Thuli is buried
with all the dignity and honour that she was denied in life. She was a brave
and strong woman. She will always be remembered and honoured in our movement.

We are facing a war. The struggle for land and dignity continues.

Lala ngoxolo qhawe, sizohlala sikukhumbula

Contact:

Sma (Family member ) – 061 346 8087
Ndabo Mzimela (Abahlali baseMjondolo Secretary General) – 079 355 6758
Zandile Nsibande (Abahlali baseMjondolo Women’s League) - 074 767 5706

For more information about Abahlali baseMjondolo visit their website at http://www.abahlali.org