Marikana Massacre Memorial Service

Abahlali baseMjondolo has held a number of serious discussions about the Marikana Massacre within our movement and with our comrades. It has also been very important for Abahlali to send a delegate straight to Marikana in the North West province to meet directly with striking workers and struggling residents of the Wonderkop shack settlement. We, together with the Unemployed People’s Movement, were also able to send two delegates to the meeting held to discuss the massacre at the University of Johannesburg last night. We wish to set the record straight and to say clearly that the account of what has happened that has been given in the media has mostly come from the state. The views and experiences of the striking workers and struggling residents of  Marikana has been silenced. It is essential that the media must talk to the striking workers and struggling residents of Marikana and not just about them.

What has also concerned us about some media reports as well as what the state has been saying is that it seems now as if communities are violent and that what we must all pray for is an end to community violence. They say that we are violent nation. They say that this is a tragedy. But they do not say that for a long time the police and various anti-land invasion units and private security companies have been waging a war against the poor. They have been driving us out of the cities and into transit camps and they have especially attacked, beaten,  tortured and killed those of us who are still struggling for real freedom, equality and justice. This has been the reality for struggling communities for years. But most middle class people only started to understand when they saw Andries Tatane being killed by the police on television. Now the truth of our democracy is here for all with eyes to see.

The police do not act as peace keepers when there is disagreement between employers and employees or citizens and government officials. They take sides. They are there for the employers and the government officials. They are not there for the people.

And we all know that we are living in a country where every police action is intelligence driven. The police have their spies everywhere and are listening to all the activists’ phones. Their intelligence is not used to keep the peace. It is used to repress us.

The reality of police violence against poor people and especially against poor people that are resisting their life sentence of poverty raises difficult questions. Why does the government that so many poor people vote for repress the poor? Why are our votes wanted but not our presence in the cities or in the discussions? Why is the government responding to the protests that are happening everywhere with violence rather than support? It is clear that they want to respond to all this anger and protest by beating us back into the dark spaces where we are supposed to be kept. They want us in the bantustans and transit camps. They want us silent.

They want a solution to the reality that this society does not provide for everyone and include everyone that takes the form of violence and intimidation. The only real solution is to work with the poor to build a society in which everyone can participate in decision making and the land and wealth of the country is shared fairly. That is the only way to build a just peace. A peace built on state violence will never be just or democratic.

Abahlali basemjondolo will be holding a Memorial Service in Durban on Friday, 24 August 2012. We need to mourn the dead and strengthen ourselves for the struggles to come.

We are inviting all churches, shack dwellers, progressive movements, and individuals to attend this service. We are happy that Bishop Rubin Phillip has confirmed his attendance.

Venue: Emmanuel Cathedral, corner of Victoria Street and Queen Street, Durban

Time: 17:00pm to 18:30pm

Abahlali baseMjondolo, or AbM, is a shack-dwellers' movement in South Africa. It campaigns to improve the living conditions of poor people and to democratize society from below. The movement refuses party politics and boycotts elections. It's key demand is that the social value of urban land should take priority over its commercial value and it campaigns for the public expropriation of large privately owned landholdings. Read other articles by Abahlali baseMjondolo, or visit Abahlali baseMjondolo's website.