Solidarity: Prepayment water meter system unconstitutional, Free basic water to be increased

30 04 2008

Johannesburg, 30 April 2008

High Court Judge slams City of Johannesburg’s water policy and orders removal of prepayment meters if residents demand.

The Johannesburg High Court today ruled that the City of Johannesburg’s practice of forcibly installing prepayment water meters in Phiri, Soweto is unconstitutional. It also set aside the City’s decision to limit its free basic water supply to 25 litres per person per day and ordered it to provide the residents of Phiri with free basic water in the amount of 50 litres per person per day. The City was further directed to give the residents of Phiri the option of an ordinary credit metered water supply.

In a ground-breaking judgment – the first in which the constitutional right to water has explicitly been raised – Judge MP Toska criticised the municipality for its discriminatory approach to the provision of water. The Judge found that: “the underlying basis for the introduction of prepayment meters seems to me to be credit control. If this is true, I am unable to understand why this credit control measure is only suitable in the historically poor black areas and not the historically rich white areas. Bad payers cannot be described in terms of colour or geographical area.”

The Judge also found that the consultation leading up to the adoption of prepayment meters was inadequate, stating that the process was “more of a publicity stunt than consultation”. He also criticised the City’s “big brother approach” to the residents of Phiri.

The Judge stated that “25 litres per person day is insufficient for the residents of Phiri”, whom he described as “poor, uneducated, elderly, sick, ravaged by HIV/AIDS and reliant on state pensions and grants.” The judge continued that “to expect the applicants to restrict their water usage, to compromise their health, by limiting the number of toilet flushes in order to save water is to deny them the rights to health and to lead a dignified lifestyle.”

The Judge found that increasing the free basic water supply would not put significant strain on the City’s water and financial resources, especially if free basic water already supplied to rich households is redistributed to the poor.

Jackie Dugard, Acting Director of CALS and a member of the applicants’ legal team said “It has been a long hard road for our clients. This judgment is not only a victory for them, but for all poor South Africans. Judge Tsoka has shown that socio-economic rights have teeth. His judgment shows a careful and sensitive understanding of the law, the City’s obligations, but above all our clients’ lives”.

Stuart Wilson, Head of the CALS Litigation Unit said that “the judgment speaks volumes about the City’s approach to the poor and the vulnerable. A serious rethink of the City’s approach to poverty must now take place”.

For more information, contact: Jackie Dugard on , Stuart Wilson on or Dale McKinley of the Coalition Against Water Privatisation on

Bishop Rubin Phillip’s UnFreedom Day Speech

30 04 2008




For many years the courage and dignity of our people under oppression was a light to the world.

There was a time when our country was a light to the world. But that light has grown so dim that there is a real danger of it being extinguished altogether.

Today millions of our people live in shacks in life threatening conditions, constantly at risk of fire and disease because they have no electricity or sanitation, while we build stadiums, casinos and theme parks.

Today we are, once again, forcing the poor out of our cities to rural townships where there are no jobs or schools or prospects for hope.

Today our brothers and sisters are being beaten and tortured by the criminal state in Zimbabwe and, when they have fled to our country for sanctuary, beaten and burnt out of their homes by ordinary South Africans and deported by our government.

Today women are still not safe in our country.

Today schools are still not safe in our country.

Today some see political office as a route to mastery over the people instead of a vocation of service to the people.

Jesus took his message to the poor, not the Rabbis – the experts of his day. Today when we do remember the suffering of ordinary people we tend to go to experts and to seek answers from their laptops rather than to the people themselves. The poor are even excluded from the discussions about their fate.

But in this darkness the courage, dignity and gentle determination of Abahlali baseMjodolo has been a light that has shone ever more brightly over the last three years. You have faced fires, sickness, evictions, arrest, beatings, slander, and still you stand bravely for what is true. Your principle that everyone matters, that every life is precious, is very simple but it is also utterly profound.

Many of us who hold dear the most noble traditions of our country take hope from your courage and your dignity just as we take hope from the recent actions of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union and the courage of so many ordinary people of Zimbabwe. A clear and compelling call to conscience has been issued and we will listen and we will act.

I know that this is a difficult time for your movement. I know that last weekend a candle was knocked over in the Jadu Place settlement and two hours later 1 600 people had lost their homes and all their possessions. I know that this year there have already been terrible fires in the Foreman Road settlement and right here in Kennedy Road. It is unacceptable that the poorest people in our cities must live with this plague of fire. Today I am making a strong and clear call to our Municipality, and to the Municipalities of all our cities across the country, for immediate action to stop these fires. The settlements must be electrified, fire hydrants provided and access roads for fire engines built.

I know that people in your movement continue to face unlawful evictions. It is a matter of deep concern that the poorest people in our city living the most precarious lives should also have to face this plague. Our Christian faith requires that we honour our neighbours. There is no honour in illegal evictions that expel the poor from the city. I know that when you have been able you have gone to court to stop unlawful evictions and that the judges have always found in your favour. Today I am making a strong and clear call to our Municipality, and the Municipalities of all our cities across the country, to declare every part of our country an evictions free zone. Today I promise to call a meeting between yourselves and other organizations to see how we can build an alliance between churches, lawyers, shack dwellers and others against unlawful evictions and for the clear and public assertion of the right to the city for all.

I know that your movement has suffered terrible abuse at the hands of the police when you have tried to exercise your basic democratic rights. In September last year I was very pleased to be part of a group of 12 church leaders that condemned a violent police attack on a peaceful and legal protest by your movement. Even some clergy were beaten that day. Today I affirm that you have every right to express your views in this country. Today I promise that next time you march I and others from the church will march with you again.

I know that your movement organises crèches, support for abused women, legal support for people facing eviction, support for families whose children are being forced out of schools because they cannot pay fees, support for people who have lost their homes in fires and much, much more without donor support. Today I promise to mobilise the churches to offer practical support to your movement and to the work that you are doing.

Jesus Christ was a poor man. His disciples were poor men. He ministered to poor women and men. When our society and our world rejects the humanity of the poor it rejects the core of the message of Christ. What ever is done to the least of our sisters and brothers is done also to God. For too long our city and our country and our world have put the poor last on the list of concerns. It is time for the last to be first.

Bishop Rubin Phillip
27th April 2008

Response to the Shack-dwellers’ UNFREEDOM DAY event from Christian Aid in Wales

26 04 2008

Source: Abahlali baseMjondolo

We are here from Christian Aid in Wales and also as representatives of The Union of Welsh Independents, who are the Congregational Churches in Wales, UK. We thank you for welcoming us to join in this event and to be part of your struggle for true and meaningful freedom.

We have not come to offer answers but to question and discover.

We have come to show compassion and solidarity with the marginalized.

We have come here to listen and to observe.

By listening and observing,

We have heard and we have seen.

By listening we have heard -

We have heard the voice of ordinary people asking for clean water, for electricity, better sanitation within their communities and asking not to be disbursed and moved out of their rooted local environment.

We have heard the voice of ordinary people pleading for change and for freedom.

We have also heard promises but we are yet to see action.

By observing we have seen -

We have seen the appalling conditions and the lack of facilities.

We have seen the lack of opportunities.

We have seen the suffering of families and the effect on children and the vulnerable.

We are waiting to see the practical response of those who are in a position to make a difference.

While celebrating political freedom for the nation, how long will ordinary people have to wait before they have the freedom to live normal lives, free from the oppression of poverty? We would like to hear the replies, the announcement of the intentions of those in authority, how and when will change really happen for the poor. When will freedom really come to the Shack-dwellers?

Tom T Defis.

Visit - the ethically-minded online magazine from Christian Aid

Houses-for-votes saga deepens

26 04 2008

April 26, 2008 Edition 1


The houses-for-votes saga in Durban took another turn yesterday after a report in an ANC Chatsworth branch newsletter called for people who did not support the ANC to be left out when the allocation of new houses takes place. Read the rest of this entry »

Press Release: AEC to invade MEC Richard Dyantyi’s office today

24 04 2008

Thursday 24th April 2008 at 8am

CAPE TOWN - At 1pm today, hundreds of members of the Gugulethu and surrounding areas Anti-Eviction Campaign will occupy the offices of the MEC for Housing and Local Government, Richard Dyantyi.

Dyantyi and Premier Ebrahim Rasool have been playing hide and seek with the community, despite our frequent written requests to them for a meeting. There is a high rate of evictions of pensioners in Gugulethu and we also want to talk to them about other issues.

First, Dyantyi’s office said they had received our letters and would get back to us. Now they say they never received any letter from us, despite us having the fax receipts as proof.

We are sick and tired of government officials who do not want to meet with the people. Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille did come to meet us although she also told us a lot of nonsense about how we should not put evicted pensioners back in their houses, because by so doing, we were deterring “investors” from investing in Gugulethu.

We demand that all those responsible for housing have proper meetings with us where they commit to solving the problems they have created for us.

For comment please call Mnce on

Solidarity: “We Will Not Be Moved!” (New York)

24 04 2008

El Barrio Fights Back Against Globalized Gentrification

April 22, 2008

From London’s Grosvenor Square you can’t see East Harlem., but you can buy it. For £250 million. 47 buildings and 1,137 homes at a time. That, at least, was supposed to be the deal for UK-based investment bank Dawnay, Day Group when it reached across the ocean last March and snatched up entire blocks of this historic neighborhood of low-income immigrants—one of the last such communities left in Manhattan. Read the rest of this entry »

Solidarity: Jo’burg marchers protest against power tariff hike

23 04 2008
23 April 2008 04:50
Source: Mail & Guardian

About 400 marchers under the banner of the Anti-Privatisation Forum handed over a memorandum to City Power and Eskom in Johannesburg on Wednesday in protest against a proposed 53% hike in electricity tariffs.

The protesters called for the immediate resignation of Eskom managers and demanded a halt to proposed bonuses to management.
Read the rest of this entry »

Officials ‘took houses meant for poor’

23 04 2008

Posted to the web on: 23 April 2008
Source: Business Day
by Nick Wilson

MORE than 30000 public servants face possible prosecution for defrauding the poor out of low-cost homes.

The Special Investigations Unit is investigating 31000 government employees, including school principals and police captains, who “corruptly or fraudulently” acquired fully subsidised houses. Read the rest of this entry »

Abahlali baseMjondolo to Mourn UnFreedom Day Once Again

22 04 2008

Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Release
Monday 21 April 2008

Event: Unfreedom Day
Time: 9:00 a.m., Sunday 27 April 2008
Venue: Community Hall, Kennedy Road Shack Settlement, Clare Estate, Durban

On Sunday it will be Freedom Day again. Once again we will be asked to go into stadiums to be told that we are free. Once again we will not be going to the stadiums. We will, for the third time, be mourning UnFreedom Day. Since the last UnFreedom Day we have been beaten, shot at and arrested by the police; evicted by the land invasions unit; disconnected from electricity by Municipal Security; forcibly removed to rural human dumping grounds by the Municipalities; banned from marching by the eThekwini City Manager; slandered by all those who want followers not comrades; intimidated by all kinds of people who demand the silence of the poor; threatened by new anti-poor laws; burnt in the fires; sick in the dirt and raped in the dark nights looking for a safe place to go the toilet.

We have also opened an office with a library, launched many new branches, successfully taken the eThekwini Municipality to court to stop evictions, taken the province to court to overturn the Slums Act, marched on Glen Nayager and Obed Mlaba, defended all of our members arrested for standing strong in the politics of the poor, organised in support of people struggling elsewhere, received powerful solidarity from other movements and some churches and thought and discussed how to make our own homemade politics, our living politics, into paths out of unfreedom.

It is clear that no one should tell someone else that they are free. Each person must decide for themselves if their life is free. Each community must decide on this matter for themselves. In each community women and men, the young and the old, the people born there and the people born in other places must decide on this matter for themselves.

In our movement we have often said that we are not free because we are forced to live without toilets, electricity, lighting, refuse removal, enough water or proper policing and, therefore, with fires, sickness and rape. We have often said that we are not free because our children are chased out of good schools and because we are being chased out of good areas and therefore away from education, work, clinics, sports fields and libraries. We have often said that we are not free because the politics of the poor is treated like a criminal offence by the Municipalities while real criminals are treated like business partners. We have often said that we are not free because the councillors are treated like the people’s masters instead of their servants. We have often said that we are not free because even many of the people who say that they are for the struggles of the poor refuse to accept that we can think for ourselves.

We have often asked that our settlements be humanized, not destroyed. We have often asked that city planning be democratized. We have often asked for an end to wasting money on stadiums and themeparks and casinos while people don’t have houses. We have often asked that democracy be a bottom up rather than a top down system. We have often asked the Municipalities and the police to obey the law. We have often asked for solidarity in action with our struggles. We have often offered and asked for solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe and Haiti and Turkey and in all the places where the poor are under attack.

But freedom is more than all of this. Freedom is a way of living not a list of demands to be met. Delivering houses will do away with the lack of houses but it won’t make us free on its own. Freedom is a way of living where everyone is important and where everyone’s experience and intelligence counts. Every Abahlali baseMjondolo branch and every settlement affiliated to Abahlali baseMjondolo in Durban, Pinetown, Pietermartrizburg and Tongaat has had a meeting to discuss the ways in which they are not free and has written a letter to the whole movement explaining why they are not free. Many new and important issues have been raised. These letters are being collected into a pamphlet that will be distributed at UnFreedom Day. We invite everyone who wants to think about Freedom and UnFreedom in our country to attend our event.

We welcome the participation of Christian Aid from Wales who have come to learn about our struggle

We welcome the participation of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, our comrades in struggle who are driving all the way from Cape Town to be with us.

We welcome the participation of Bishop Reuben Phillip and the other clergy who have bravely stood with us in difficult times.

At this time we express our solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe suffering terrible oppression in their own country and terrible xenophobia in South Africa. We also express our solidarity with the people battling eviction in Joe Slovo and Delft in Cape Town and the whole Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign as well as the Landless Peoples’ Movement and all organisations, big and small, standing up for the right to the city, the humanisation of the rural areas and for justice for the poor across the country. We also express our solidarity with the 1 500 people left homeless in the Jadhu Place settlement on Sunday morning after another of the fires that terrorize our people.

We salute the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union and Bishop Reuben Philip for their active solidarity with the Zimbabwean people. We call on others to follow their example. We call on all clergy to stand with the poor. We call on the South African Municipal Workers’ Union to refuse to carry out any instructions to evict the poor from the cities. We call on the Police and Prison’s Civil Rights Union to refuse to carry out any orders to assault and arrest the poor for exercising their democratic rights to protest. Solidarity in action is our only hope.

No Land! No House! No Vote!
Land & Housing in the Cities!
Bottom Up Democracy not Top Down Rule by Councilors!

For information or comment please contact:

Abahlali baseMjondolo:

Mr Mnikelo Ndabankulu, Abahlali baseMjondolo Spokesperson,
Ms Zodwa Nsibande, Abahlali baseMjondolo Organiser,
Ms Shamita Naidoo, Chairperson, Motala Heights Abahlali baseMjondolo Branch,
Mr Mashumi Figlan, Abahlali baseMjondolo Deputy-President,

Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign:

Mr. Mzonke Pone, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign Co-ordinator,
Mr. Gary Hartzenberg, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign Co-ordinator,

Solidarity: Jadhu Place Fire Disaster, 1 500 homeless, City tries to turn the settlements into a ‘transit camp’

21 04 2008

Most of the Jadhu Place settlement burnt down early on Saturday morning after a candle was knocked over. Jadhu was one of the first settlements to join Abahlali baseMjondolo back in 2005. At least 1 500 people have been left homeless by this fire. The City has provided large tents for people left homeless and instructed them not to rebuild their shacks. They are misusing this disaster to turn a long established shack settlement, a community with a proud history, into a transit camp.

Obed Mlaba’s house is symbolically burnt on 28 November 2008 in protest at the plague of fires. Read the rest of this entry »