AGE OF THE ASSASSIN
Killers of Abahlali baseMjondolo leader hunted him down in his shack after failing to find two of his colleagues
Abahlali baseMjondolo leader Lindokuhle Mnguni was shot dead while he was in hiding after witnessing the murder of another Abahlali leader, Ayanda Ngila.
Mnguni had been receiving death threats and had been in hiding at a safe house for more than a year because he was a witness to the murder of fellow Abahlali leader Ayanda Ngila in March. Mnguni was the 24th leader of the shack dwellers’ movement to be killed since it was established. In May, Nokuthula Mabaso was shot dead in her home.
Abahlali baseMjondolo General Secretary Thapelo Mohapi said: “Mnguni [and fellow Abahlali members] Tshazi and Gasela had come out of their safe house to the commune on Saturday. They fenced the poultry, ploughed the garden and planted spinach and cabbage. Gasela left in the afternoon, but Mnguni and Tshazi decided to remain for a meeting in the evening to discuss the way forward for these projects. It went on till 11pm.
“When the two gunmen broke into the occupation after midnight, they first went to the community hall. On finding no one there, they broke into the shacks of Tshazi and Miya. But they had slept in other shacks, and were saved,” he said.
“But Lindokuhle had made the mistake of going back to his own shack to sleep. They found him and killed him.”
Kelly Gillespie, representing the Anti-Repression Collective (ARC), a collective of organisers and researchers working against the use of state repression in southern Africa, told Maverick Citizen that the ARC extended its sympathies to the family and comrades of Mnguni, as well as to the families and comrades of Nokuthula Mabaso and Ayanda Ngila, both also assassinated this year for their involvement in Abahlali and the eKhanana Commune.
‘Pattern of assassinations’
“These are likely to be targeted assassinations of organisers involved in struggles for access to land and housing in South Africa. The targeting of Abahlali members fits in with a pattern of assassinations that has particular intensity in the KZN region, but is increasing nationally.
“We condemn in the strongest terms this cowardly resort to violence, and call for dedicated investigations into the killings and the protection of AbM’s [Abahlali baseMjondolo’s] right to continue its fight for land and housing.
“It is a basic civic responsibility to protect the right of movements like AbM to organise without facing the threat of violence of this kind. Violence like this is not only a threat to Abahlali, but is a threat to all of us seeking a more just society.
“As has been documented in relation to numerous political killings in KZN and elsewhere, killings of this kind often reflect the covert involvement of political role-players, people with economic interests in land, property and development deals, and may also involve complicity by people associated with the police or intelligence agencies.
“If we do not collectively stand firm against these killings, these forces will develop unchecked, which will increase political repression and have dire consequences for our future.”
The Swiss Apartheid Debt and Reparations Campaign and the Swiss solidarity organisation Solifonds sent the shack dwellers’ movement a message of solidarity.
“We ask the South African Human Rights Commission to take up the matter with immediate effect, as outlined in the Independent Accredited Monitor Report prepared by Jared Sacks and submitted on 27th October 2021, to investigate institutions and individuals involved in inflicting threats and violence upon members of the community and to use its influence and powers to bring attention to the violations taking place against Abahlali baseMjondolo and the residents of eKhenana.”
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‘March of freedom’
The Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) in Brazil said: “It is known by all that violence against the fighters of the people exists in all parts of the world. In Brazil, we have already lost hundreds of comrades, leaders, and people who gave their lives for the struggle, comrades who fell knowing that others would take the flag from their bloody hands to follow the inevitable march of freedom.
“We fight because we believe that a new world is possible, but we fight above all because we know that a new world is necessary. It is necessary to put an end to all the barbarism practised by the owners of power, to put an end to all racism and all kinds of oppression practised by the bourgeoisie and legitimised by the capitalist relations of production.
“Comrade Mnguni was a great internationalist and for this reason he knew that the struggle of any oppressed person in any part of the world was also his struggle. The MST struggles for the emancipation of the families in the eKhenana Commune, the AbM struggles so that the workers of Brazil have access to land and dignity, the whole of Africa struggles so that Mnguni will always be remembered and serve as an inspiration to the next fighters who will take our banners from us and carry them forward.”
SA Human Rights Commission
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said: “The commission strongly condemns the brutal and senseless killing of Mr Lindokuhle Mnguni. The state, particularly the South African Police Service, has a duty to ensure the creation of a safe environment that enables human rights defenders to carry out their activities toward the advancement of all human rights. In doing their work, human rights defenders have the right to be protected.
“The commission calls upon the SAPS to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into the killing of Mr Lindokuhle Mnguni to ensure that the perpetrators responsible for this atrocious act are swiftly brought to account.”
Pavershree Padayachee, the acting provincial manager of the SAHRC in KwaZulu-Natal, said: “Killings constitute a criminal offence and as such fall under the jurisdiction of the South African Police Service for investigation.
“However, in terms of the commission’s mandate, it can facilitate and monitor the progress of criminal and other investigations, especially in instances where it may appear that the matter is not receiving the necessary attention that it ought to receive. The commission will be monitoring this situation closely and will engage with the relevant authorities as is deemed necessary.”
Action on persecution reports
Maverick Citizen asked the SAHRC about two reports that had been submitted to the commission by Abahlali baseMjondolo detailing the persecution and violence it faces and whether there was any intended or current action.
Padayachee replied: “Whilst the SAHRC has previously not received any formal complaints directly from the Abahlali baseMjondolo movement, it recently consulted with the [Abahlali] president and other members of the movement regarding their concerns. We have also requested further information from the movement’s legal representative and on receipt of same we will consider the matter further.”
Asked what the killing of Abahlali baseMjondolo leaders meant for human rights in South Africa, Padayachee said: “These criminal acts are extremely concerning to the commission, as human rights defenders are worthy of equal protection and freedoms as provided for in terms of the Constitution and other legislation.
“The SAHRC will continue to monitor this matter closely in order to ensure justice for the victim, his family and the movement as a whole.” DM/MC
Abahlali baseMjondolo has asked for donations to support the families of Mnguni, Ngila and Mabaso. Below are the account details and PayPal link. Please include this reference in your payment if you would like your contribution to go directly to the three affected families: MNGUNI
Account holder’s name: Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA.
Bank: First National Bank (FNB); Acc. no: 62786238230
Swift code: FIRNZAJJ