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SAFTU condemns assassination of S’fiso Ngcobo

The South African Federation of Trade Unions strongly condemns the assassination  of S’fiso Ngcobo, chairperson of the eKukhanyeni branch of community group Abahlali baseMjondolo, in Marianhill, KZN.

Just after he left an assembly on 22 May 2018, at around 7:30 pm, he stepped out of his home to buy a cool drink from a shop in a container just a few meters away. He was shot multiple times by a group of unknown men. The police were called but  took more than three hours to arrive even though the local police station is nearby.

He had received death threats and was aware that it was not safe to be out at night, but despite the danger large numbers of comrades immediately gathered at his home.

eKukhanyeni is a land occupation, in an area formerly known as eMasenseni, in Marianhill, where tensions have been escalating for some time. Abahlali baseMjondolo believe that the hostility to their movement comes from the leaders of the local ANC, as well as local business interests who depend on the ruling party for tenders.

In April last year the group issued a statement noting concern about illegal and violent evictions in the area and the conduct of the local Ward Councillor, who told the people who have been illegally evicted to go back where they come from… The Sotho must go back to the Basotho Land and the Xhosa people must go back to the Eastern Cape.

“The Councillors have openly told the community that they will be wasting their time if they open cases with police. The police have confirmed this by telling the people that they will not waste state facilities by opening unnecessary cases. The evictions and assaults were illegal and criminal acts but the police are not enforcing the law, the are enforcing the illegal oppression by the Councillors.”

In March the group issued a statement noting that after another illegal eviction in eKukhanyeni, this time by a private security company and in violation of an interdict from the Durban High Court, that “Three members of the movement were attacked by men driving in two unmarked vehicles. These comrades were seriously injured and are currently in hospital.”

As protests escalated Nonhlanhla Zungu broke her leg while fleeing the police and Sibusiso Mngonyolo was shot with rubber bullets and sustained serious injuries.

In a statement Abahlali baseMjondolo say that  Comrade Ngcobo was a brave and honest leader held in high respect in his community and in the movement. “He led the occupation in eKukhanyeni, founded a creche and campaigned for the development of the area. He resisted in difficult times. When Samuel Hloele was murdered by the Anti-Land Invasion Unit Comrade Ngcobo was there and led from the front. We have lost a cadre and a leader in Comrade Ngcobo. We will bury him with the dignity that he was denied in life and we will make sure that his memory is honoured. The struggle for land and dignity continues”.

SAFTU echoes that sentient and sends its condolences to Comrade Ngcobo’s famiy, friends and comrades.

The federation also demands that the ANC and the SAPS urgently investigate the very serous allegations made by Abahlali baseMjondolo, and catch, arrest and charge those responsible for this cold-blooded murder. The ANC must also discipline their local councillor If found guilty of making the alleged xenophobic and tribalist comments abut community members.

Tragedies like this show how important it is for local communities and workers to come together in a united campaign for land and housing for all South Africans.