A South African court has found a police officer guilty of shooting dead 17-year-old protester, Nqobile Nzuza. The judgement sends a strong message to all police officers who act on the instructions of politicians to brutalize unarmed citizens demanding their rights.
Baby Jayden Khoza, aged just two weeks old, was killed during violent repression of a community protest by the police. The baby’s killing underlines the utter inhumanity of the post-apartheid South African state in dealing with poor people who only demand the right to a decent life. Jayden could have become a teacher, a doctor, a leader in his community or even a revolutionary president; an honest president.
It is very disturbing that the very same municipality that gave permission for people to build and provided the building material is now illegally and violently tearing these shacks down. If the govrernment continues to rule impoverished people in a violent, unlawful, corrupt and criminal way, there will be a risk of retaliation from the oppressed.
To be poor means to live with death as a constant presence. It means that daily life is a struggle for survival. That is the reality of the shack-dwellers in South Africa. Amidst this depresseing state of affairs, still members of the Abahlali baseMjondolo movement are able to find strength to build their solidarity and continue in the struggle for social justice.
Students are insisting that the social value of education must come before its commercial value. Just as land should not be bought and sold, so also education is not something that should be bought and sold.
South Africa’s shack dwellers movement was founded ten years ago by citizens frustrated by the ruling ANC’s failure to deliver the promises of democracy in the “new” nation. It has been a worthwhile struggle against a neo-liberal state that pays scant attention to needs of the majority poor Black people.
South African politicians have promised better housing and the sinister-sounding “slum eradication” for years. Undocumented, unreliable and famously corrupt, these promises have failed to pull slum populations into legal, decent government-provided housing. The landless have no option but to occupy public land.
The attacks on African migrants in South Africa are connected to oppression of poor black people in general. To prevent the poor from organizing and standing up to their real enemies, the state is tacitly encouraging violence against foreigners.