Maverick Citizen

AGE OF THE ASSASSIN

Abahlali baseMjondolo applauds failed bail bid by accused in Nokuthula Mabaso killing

Abahlali baseMjondolo applauds failed bail bid by accused in Nokuthula Mabaso killing
Abahlali baseMjondolo activist Nokuthula Mabaso was shot dead in front of her children at her home in the eKhenana informal settlement near Durban. (Photo: supplied by GroundUp)

Denying the brothers bail is a ‘major step forward’, the shack dwellers’ movement says, ‘in the context of systemic impunity for the assassination of activists’.

On the evening of Wednesday, 7 September, shack dwellers’ organisation Abahlali baseMjondolo released a statement saying the bail application of 59-year-old Samson Ngubane and his brother, 70-year-old Mhlanganyelwa John Ngubane – the priests accused of killing Nokuthula Mabaso – had been denied in the Durban Magistrates’ Court. The magistrate also denied an application to appeal against the judgment.

The killing of Nokuthula Mabaso on 5 May 2022 was followed by that of another leader, Lindokuhle Mnguni, on 20 August bringing the number of Abahlali leaders killed since its formation to 24. The organisation has unsuccessfully tried to get the police, the government and even the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to prioritise their plight and the murder of their leaders.

Abahlali said the denial of bail for Mabaso’s murder accused is a step towards justice: “In the context of systemic impunity for the assassination of activists, this is a major step forward. It is an important step towards what we hope will be a larger victory for justice and for all activists across the country who are facing repression and attacks from the ruling party and the state. ”

After Mnguni’s death, Maverick Citizen asked the SAHRC about two reports that had been submitted to the commission by Abahlali detailing the persecution and violence it faces, and whether there was any intended or current action.  

Read in Daily Maverick: “A worried mother wanted to build a communal garden in Durban, she was murdered for it

Pavershree Padayachee, the acting provincial manager of the SAHRC in KwaZulu-Natal, said: “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.”

During the bail application, Sergeant Geoffrey Goss, the investigating officer in the Mabaso case, opposed bail for the accused, saying in his testimony that the brothers were likely to intimidate the witnesses who saw them shoot Mabaso and then take her phone. 


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In arguing for the brothers’ release, their lawyer said they were elderly church and community leaders with permanent residence in Cato Manor and had no intention to leave. Magistrate N Mhlungu did not consider their circumstance exceptional enough to grant them bail and ruled that they be remanded in police custody.

Mhlungu said: “The courts noted the violence and the threat the applicants caused in the society. Their threats of violence led to the death of a woman.”

Welcoming the judgment, Abahlali president S’bu Zikode said: “The criminals will not go easy on us, so we should not go easy on them. If we go easy on them, then we will keep having to bury our brothers and sisters.” 

Read in Daily Maverick: “Abahlali leader describes how Nokuthula Mabaso was shot 4 times in back, then in breast and stomach

The organisation’s statement says: “We have concluded that we do not have a police minister in this country and that the current minister is the minister of the elite, not the poor. Those who are politically connected, their cases are investigated and prosecuted. Those who are organised outside of the ANC, and who struggle against the ANC for the full recognition of human dignity – for land, housing, decent education and healthcare, for the full equality of women, for an end to xenophobia and for real democracy – can be killed like animals.”

Read in Daily Maverick: “Killers of Abahlali baseMjondolo leader hunted him down in his shack after failing to find two of his colleagues 

As a result of the targeted assassinations the Abahlali leaders are all in hiding because they fear for their lives. In an interview with eNCA this week, the movement’s general secretary, Thapelo Mohapi, said: “We are actually seeking psychological help from psychologists so that we can actually heal from the pain that we have.”

The statement adds: “The leadership of the movement, as well as our lawyer, Mbali Khubheka, have been receiving threats from the Ngubane family… We will continue to struggle to ensure that there is justice for every member of our movement.” DM/MC

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