Solidarity with the Shackdwellers Movement in South Africa

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Partners for Dignity & Rights stand in solidarity with Abahlali baseMjondolo, or the Shackdwellers Movement, and to the family and community of Ayanda Ngila, a leader who was murdered last week. The Shackdwellers Movement is a movement of the poor and dispossessed in South Africa fighting for land, housing and Dignity. Read more below:

Ayanda Ngila was Deputy Chairperson of Abahlali baseMjondolo’s eKhenana settlement in Durban, South Africa. His tragic killing appears to be part of a pattern of ongoing attacks on the community and its members. The eKhenana settlement has been facing attempts at forcible evictions and its leaders have been facing ongoing attacks. Recently, two leaders had their homes burnt to the ground, and in 2021 alone, 11 leaders were arrested on trumped up charges. Ayanda Ngila was arrested twice and at one point spent 6 months in prison on false murder charges. On Sunday, 6 March 2022, members of the ANC allegedly attacked members of Abahlali baseMjondolo after their General Assembly in the eKhenana settlement. Two Abahlali members were injured after being hit by axes and had to be rushed to the hospital and the entrance to the settlement was vandalized.

In addition to our solidarity, we also wish to express our outrage and indignation regarding the never-ending violence and oppression faced by members of the eKhenana settlement and wider Abahlali baseMjondolo of which the killing of Ayanda Ngila is the most recent example. Since its inception in 2005, the movement has faced forcible evictions and demolishment of homes; communities face impoverishment, hunger and unnecessary fires in the face of abandonment and lack of public provision of basic necessities; Abahlali baseMjondolo leaders have been attacked and have repeatedly been forced to go into hiding and 19 leaders have lost their life to assassinations.

Abahlali baseMjondolo is carrying out critical human rights work, supporting South Africa in living up to its ideals and Constitution. In the face of unemployment, impoverishment, government abandonment and brutal attacks, they promote important alternatives of cooperation and solidarity among the poor, which are being modeled in the eKhenana settlement.

We call on the South African authorities to ensure an immediate, independent and thorough investigation into the killing of Ayanda Ngila. Those responsible must be held accountable.

Read more from International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, here, and a collective letter in solidarity, here. Read more from the University of the Poor here.