by Bandile Mdlalose
We are supposed to be living in a democratic country, a country of justice, a country where everyone should be treated as one. Yet there is a huge inequality. That inequality is economic, it is spatial and it is political. We remain divided into rich and poor. We continue to be allocated to different kinds of places that are meant for different kinds of people with different kinds of opportunities, different kinds of lives and different kinds of rights. We continue to be divided into those that have the freedom to express themselves and those that face all kinds of intimidation and repression if we commit the crime of telling the truths about our lives.
For the poor this country is a democratic prison. We are allowed to vote for our prison warders and managers but we must always remain in the prison. We must remain in silence when our shack settlements are illegally destroyed leaving us homeless. We must remain in silence when we are forcibly removed to transit camps that are only fit for animals but not for people. We must remain in silence when we are told to return to Lusikisiki or taken to human dumping grounds far outside the cities. We must remain in silence when we are threatened, beaten, shot and killed. The politicians think that when we refuse to be silent, and when we resist repression, they can silence us by throwing some meat at us. After all these years they think that we are dogs. We are not dogs. We are people. We will continue to rebel until we are treated as human beings.
It is a shame that we living in this democratic prison country. It is also a shame that this country is respected highly in African Countries yet we are led by black Boers. This is a country in which the politicians have no humanity.
This is a country with the greatest and most respected Constitution but unfortunately it is documented but not implemented. The reality of this country is that everywhere you look there is police brutality, corruption and fraud and no justice is taking place.
This is a country which is supposed to be leading in development but it only leads on documents and not in reality. When we speak we are ignored. When we protest legally we are ignored. When we block the roads then the government will give us their documents about their plans for development. But what is written on paper is never what happens in reality. We want real change in our communities, our lives and our cities.
On paper all people that have been made poor by oppression are supposed to be on the housing list. When we discover that we are not going to get houses, or that we will even be evicted from our shacks or forced into a transit camp, and we raise our voices against injustice we find that we are on the death list.
When I grew up I was taught my rights. I never thought practicing those rights could put me on the death list. I always thought that my name was on the housing database list but unfortunately now I find that it is on the death database list. I am not the only one. Mnikelo Ndabankulu was even threatened with death on iGagasi FM. We have to take the death list seriously. Our government fails to deliver houses but it does not fails to deliver deaths. Already three comrades have been killed in Cato Crest. The politicians can give the order for your death in the afternoon and you can be killed that night. When it comes to the death list delivery is very quick and it is very effective. You can be shot 12 times just to make sure that you are really dead.
Thembinkosi Qumbelo and Nkululeko Gwala were assassinated months ago. No one has been arrested for these murders. No accountability took place. There was no investigation. It was the same when Mr. Govan from the Land Invasions Unit shot Nkosinathi Mngomezulu four times and when the police shot Nqobile Nzuza in the back of her head. The person who took Mngomezulu to the hospital in his car was arrested but not the person who shot Mngomezulu. I was arrested when we marched on KwaKito to protest the murder of Nqobile. But even though witnesses have stated which police officer murdered her no one has been arrested for the murder. At the same times our struggle is being criminalized and we are being arrested all the time. Sometimes we are beaten in the police stations too.
The criminalization of our activism is increasing even though we have done nothing wrong and are just practicing our rights. We have evicted no-one, we have beaten no-one and we have killed no-one. Yet we are shown to the world as the criminals. It is clear that it is considered criminal for us to take democracy seriously, to take our rights seriously and to take our lives seriously. It is clear that it is considered criminal for us think that we are human beings and not dogs.
We do not beg for our rights. Our rights are rights that we already have because we are human beings and they are also written in the Constitution. We will not crawl to anyone and beg for our rights. However we will implement the Constitution ourselves and make use of our rights.
We are fully aware of the price that has been paid and that will be paid when we take our rights seriously. But as we have said before we are also aware that the price of silence is higher than the price of rebellion. For this reason we will continue to rebel.
Everywhere people are saying that there is no turning back now. We have shown our power and our determination. The comrades in the Marikana Land Occupation in Cato Crest have rebuilt their shacks nine times despite three murders, two shootings and many beatings and threats. We have organized a march of thousands on the City Hall. We have organized eight road blockades, some with more than 500 people, at the same time.
We will take our struggle forward until there is a real housing database that is used to provide decent and well located housing to the people. We will take our struggle forward until the death database has been eliminated and democracy has been extended to everyone who loves in South Africa, rich or poor.