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United Front press statement, 22 October 2018

On Thursday 18 October, 150 activists from the South Durban United Front marched in Umlazi. The march was called over the disappearance of R392-million, earmarked for low-cost housing in Ward 88 uMlazi, and supported by a range of organisations including the Right2Know campaign, Abahlali BaseMjondolo movement and Ubunye Bama Hostel. The march ended peacefully at the office of the eThekwini municipal councillor S’bu Maphumulo, at around 2pm.

Later that evening, Maphumulo became the latest victim of the well reported factional war taking place within the ANC when he was tragically shot dead in his car after coming out of a meeting. According to researchers at the University of Cape Town and the Global Initiative Against Transnational Crime, around 90 ANC leaders have been killed in this ongoing conflict since 2016.

In the early hours of Friday morning, 13 officials, with guns, who identified themselves as police but refused to offer any further information as required by law, entered the home of one of the march organizers, Bheki Buthelezi. With no evidence at hand, the officials beat and kicked Buthelezi, in front of his young children, demanding he hand over ‘the gun.’ At this point Buthelezi was not aware that there had been a murder. The harassment continued the next day; when finding Buthelezi not at home, the same officials bullied his family. Two other march convenors, Sizwe Shibe and Sithembile Doncabe, were detained for questioning by police on Saturday afternoon, but released after a couple of hours.

The R392-million was approved in January 2016 by the Department of Human Settlements. Ward 88 is made up of a mixture of RDP houses and informal housing. This money was intended to supply formal housing for those living in Ezakheleni and Umhlabeni settlements.

It seems it has disappeared into the pockets of local politicians but the community are demanding answers. They are the victims in this messy but familiar story of corrupt use of public money. By deliberately conflating a peaceful march with a murder, the police and some parts of the media, have added insult to injury because in the case of the latter the community organisers have not been asked for their response to this gruesome murder.

Vulnerable people, who have effectively been robbed of the right to housing and who are now trying to demand accountability from public officials, are being wrongfully branded as killers. A crime has been committed and police must follow proper procedures to catch the perpetrators.

NB We have all the documented evidence in regards to allocated funds from the KZN Department of Human Settlements.