South Africa: Stop the attacks on the eKhenana Commune

Publish Date: 
Friday, December 17, 2021

On 6 December 2021, ESCR-Net sent a collective letter to the South African authorities calling on them to stop the ongoing attacks on the eKhenana Commune in Durban, South Africa.

Throughout 2021, at least ten Abahlali basemjondolo leaders from the eKhenana Commune have been criminalized in what appears to an orchestrated assault on the leadership and residents of the eKhenana Commune seemingly being carried out in collusion between the Cato Manor police, the local ANC branch and the eThekwini municipality.

The attacks on the eKhenana Commune and the wider Abahlali basemjondolo movement is taking place in the context of their struggle for housing and dignity for some of the most marginalized people in South Africa. Since its foundation in 2005, Abahlali baseMjondolo has faced severe repression and 18 of its leaders and members have been killed.

Similarly, the eKhenana Commune and other land occupations have faced violent attacks by state and non-state actors in attempts at forcibly evicting the communities trying to establish sustainable futures in the face of severe state neglect.

In light of the gravity of the situation, ESCR-Net has called on the South African government to:

  1. Put an immediate end to the attacks on Abahlali baseMjondolo members and ensure an enabling environment for human rights defenders generally in South Africa.
  2. Conduct prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into the allegations of attacks on residents in the eKhenana Commune, including the burning of houses of Abahlali baseMjondolo branch secretary Maphiwe Gasela and Phumelele Mkhize, and hold those responsible to account.
  3. Ensure the physical and mental integrity of human rights defenders in South Africa, including by ensuring the protection of human rights defenders receiving death threats including against Abahlali baseMjondolo Deputy President Mqapheli Bonono and other movement leaders. Conduct prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigations into these allegations and hold those responsible to account.
  4. Put an immediate stop to illegal forced evictions in South Africa. Conduct prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigations into allegations of excessive use of force against shack dwellers by the eThekwini anti-land invasion unit, the private security company Calvin and Family Security Services, the South African National Defense Force, the Durban Metro Police, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other state and non-state actors. Responsible parties must be held accountable.
  5. Progressively take ambitious steps, utilizing maximum available resources, to provide adequate housing and access to basic services for all South Africans, including residents of informal settlements and land occupations.

You can read the full letter in this link.