Abahlali baseMjondolo PressThe notorious Michael Sutcliffe continues to launch illegal attacks on our basic democratic rights

19 March 2010

He has now given in to our pressure and removed his illegal ban on our right to march but he has issued a permit that only allows us to march from Botha Park to Albert Park. Our march on Jacob Zuma, scheduled for 22 March 2010, was planned to go from Botha Park through Pixley KaSeme Street and to the City Hall. But Sutcliffe’s unilateral imposition of unreasonable restrictions on our right to protest means that we will only be able to march about 600m and that our march will be kept far away from the centre of the city - it will be hidden away, just like a transit camp.

Our members from across this city - from Lamontville, to Pinetown and Umlazi - are determined to march because it is essential that we demonstrate our dignified anger and our mass support in public. We are the people who are being swept out of the cities like dirt. We are the people who are being hidden away in transit camps. We are the people who are supposed to suffer in secret in the human dumping grounds like Park Gate. If our protest also has to be hidden away and contained on the outskirts of the city then there is no point in having a march. The whole point of having a march is to show our power and our determination to assert our right to the city in the city. We cannot and will not accept that we must hold our protests in secret.

It is clear that we who are from the jondolos have to pay a very high price for our rights. When we ask for what is promised to all citizens we are attacked, driven from our homes, slandered, beaten, tortured and jailed. A simple procedure like arranging a legal march becomes a complicated game that takes all of our time and energies. Now it is clear that we will have to go to court to ask a judge to defend our basic rights against Sutcliffe. We are briefing a lawyer right now. But why do we have to pay such a high price to realise our basic rights? The only logical answer seems to be that these rights are no longer intended for us - that we are the people that don’t count and who must be silent as we are driven out of the cities.

When the media first reported on Sutcliffe’s illegal ban of our march the police spokesperson said that all marches would be banned due to the World Cup. If it is true that our basic democratic rights are being removed as a result of the World Cup then we say, very clearly, that the World Cup is a new kind of colonialism that every person who is right in their mind must reject and resist with all their force in their mind and in their muscles.

Sutcliffe insults Human Rights Day, he insults our democracy and he insults Pixley KaSeme and the memory of the struggle for our democracy when he bans us from marching down Pixley KaSeme Street and taking our anger to its rightful home - the City Hall - on the national public holiday to celebrate Human Rights Day.

We strongly recommend that journalists and the police familiarise themselves with the legislation governing the right to march. The system whereby permits had to be granted for marches to be legal was struck off the statute book in 1993. These permits have had no basis in law since then. And the Gatherings Act prohibits the authorities from imposing unreasonable conditions on our right to protest. Our right to protest is not negotiable. There is a good summary of the Gatherings Act available online at:


For further information and up the minute updates on the legal battle to have Sutcliffe’s attack on our basic democratic rights overturned please contact:

S’bu Zikode, Abahlali baseMjondolo President: 083 547 0474
Troy Morrow, Chairperson of the Abahlali baseMjondolo Hillary Branch: 071 511 8446
Zodwa Nsibande, Abahlali baseMjondolo General Secretary: 082 830 2707
To view the short video by Umhlanga Rocks on the September 2009 attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo in the Kennedy Road settlement visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8gQv19cD4Y /> Abahlali baseMjondolo, together with with Landless People’s Movement (Gauteng), the Rural Network (KwaZulu-Natal) and the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, is part of the Poor People’s Alliance - a national network of democratic membership based poor people’s movements.
Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign
http://antieviction.org.za/ /> To contact Abahlali baseMjondolo in Cape Town please email abmwesterncape [at] abahlali.org or phone Mzonke Poni on 073 246 2036

To contact the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, also in Cape Town, email aec [at] antieviction.org.za or phone Ashraf Cassiem at 076 186 1408.

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