The Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) visited Abahlali baseMjondolo head office in Durban from the 23rd of February 2020 ahead of the march that was to be held the next day. During this visit, the SAHRDN managed to visit two Abahlali communities of Khenani and Nenkani and interacted with how the community members are living and the challenges they face when asserting their rights to land. After interacting with the community, the SAHRDN was also privileged to attend an event were the Abahlali national leadership was establishing a new community leadership in a new settlement.
On the 24th of February, the SAHRDN witnessed the march or demonstration organised by Abahlali. The social movement held a march from King Dinuzulu Park to the Durban City Hall. At the City Hall, the movement handed over their submission on the Amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution. This submission follows the heated debate on land expropriation without compensation in South Africa. The submission was handed over to the chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Amendment Bill Dr Mathole Motshekga
“As Abahlali, we don’t see land as a commodity, the land must be shared to all the people who work for it. It must be shared with those impoverished people and people who live in the shacks,” said Abahlali baseMjondolo general secretary Nomsa Sizani.
Abahlali does not believe in land reform driven by the elite. Instead, the shack dwellers’ movement believes that land should be a public good with redistribution from the bottom up, and women should be directly included in the land question.
“As Abahlali baseMjondolo, we say land mustn’t be seen as a commodity,” Sizani said. Land should be seen as a public good. In the discussion about expropriation of land without compensation, Abahlali is concerned that the land in question is land for profit. “That’s what matters to them, it’s only the profit and not the public good,” she said.
Since its inception in 2005, Abahlali has called for the right to well-located land and decent housing for all in our cities. Their advocacy has been met with violence, with some human rights defenders even losing their lives. “This is very important for us as Abahlali baseMjondolo to be here because we are facing a lot of evictions in our communities and we have been brutally beaten by the police and also eThekwini Municipality during the land occupation,” Sizani said