Another housing and land activist killed in Cape Town

Songezo Ndude was shot and killed during a housing protest in Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay, Cape Town. Photo supplied

In the space of just 4 weeks, another community leader and housing activist has been killed and this time at the hands of the South African Police’s Public Order Policing. Songezo Ndude died at Groote Schuur Hospital after he was hit by rubber bullets during a housing protest in Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay.

Hout Bay, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

In the space of just 4 weeks, another community leader and housing activist has been killed and this time at the hands of the South African Police’s Public Order Policing. Songezo Ndude died at Groote Schuur Hospital after he was hit by rubber bullets during a housing protest in Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay.  The action erupted on 2 July after residents of the Hout Bay township protested against the slow pace by the City of Cape Town to electrify and reblock the temporary settlement area which accommodated local shack fire victims.

It later intensified and the police responded with stun grenades and rubber bullets before they arrested several protesters who included the deceased who later succumbed to a head injury.

The rubber bullet allegedly hit Songezo Ndude (26), a devoted EFF supporter, above his left ear.

Another land and housing activist, Mthunzi ‘Ras Moziah’ Zuma, was gunned down on 28 May during a land occupation in Khayelitsha about 40 kilometres from Hout Bay.

Zuma’s alleged killer, Alfred Bangini (59) was freed with bail of R500 by the Khayelitsha Magistrate court last month.

Residents bade an emotional farewell to Ndude during a memorial service in the area’s community hall on Saturday.

Some of the residents are seen in song and prayer during Songezo Ndude’s memorial service in Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay, on Saturday. Photo by Mandla Mnyakama

“The City of Cape Town promised us with super-blocking of the new settlement where the victims will settle after the devastating fire and we appreciated that.

“But the foremost issue residents highlighted was the demand for land so they could resettle in a comfortable manner and that did not happen until the community embarked on protest action.

“Now Songezo’s death should not just help us to get the government to uplift [the community] and give attention to our own social issues. It also needs us to stay as a determined and unified community to ensure that we overcome all our local developmental challenges. I do not understand why we should have to die before our basic service demands are heeded,” said Lungisa Bhezile, a local community leader.

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Mbuyiseli Zakumbe, a concerned resident echoed Bhezile’s sentiments, saying that the grief he experienced after the horrific incident will be only healed when the authorities delivered electrified RDP houses for the deceased and other deserving residents. “I won’t be at peace until then. Without that it would mean that the shedding of this heroic and courageous man’s blood was in vain,” said Zakumbe.

Mkhululi Markiss-Ndude, a cousin to the deceased, said that he does not have revenge against anyone in mind because of the incident but was more determined to contribute in their community’s dedicated struggle for housing and infrastructural development.

Markiss-Ndude criticized the police’s conduct during the protest and claimed that it resembled a racist force from outside the area which was brought in to kill.

He also complained that the police had provoked the protesters by shooting at them with no reason, resulting in the youthful crowd pelting the police with stones.

Markiss-Ndude claimed that he and other protesters were also severely assaulted by the police.

“They called us baboons and kaffirs during our arrest. We got severely assaulted but what affected me most was to witness other arrested comrades being thrown against iron bars when we got to the police station,” he complained.

 Markiss-Ndude said they are also demanding that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) investigates the case to probe who had fired the bullet which killed his cousin and who had instructed them to do so.

Patricia De Lille, Cape Town’s Executive Mayor, appealed to the Imizamo Yethu community to disregard the Western Cape Human Settlements MEC, Bonginkosi Madikizela’s statement last week that some of the fire victims would be relocated 30km from the area, as it was not what they agreed with the residents.

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She also promised to continue to work closely with the local residents.

De Lille also maintained that the city will pursue court action against fire victims who moved to the shackfire site illegally to occupy land and obstruct the municipality’s efforts to construct a road.

The particular road she referred to was reportedly being built for the installation of water, electricity and sanitation services.

Ndude’s death has reminded Imizamo Yethu residents of the shooting and killing of Andries Tatane in 2011.  Tatane (33) was shot and killed by police during a service delivery protest in Ficksburg on 13 April 2011.

Seven police officers accused of his murder and assault were acquitted in the Ficksburg Regional Court in March 2013.

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