23 August

On Saturday, 20 August 2022, the Chairperson of eKhenana Commune, Lindokuhle Mnguni was assassinated by hitmen in his home. It’s clear that the assassination was part of the sustained use of violence to suppress the shack dwellers’ movement, Abahlalili baseMjondolo. The movement takes direct action to ensure people’s rights to housing, land, food, and dignity. Since its formation in 2005, 24 of its members have been assassinated by hitmen linked to the local political elite and police. Despite the movement’s attempts to convince the Minister of Police and other senior officials to investigate the attacks, there seems to be no political will to address the violence. Thus far, there have been only two prosecutions!

The assassination of Lindokuhle and the sustained attack on Abahlali is an attack on all of us and is one of the greatest assaults on our democracy.

Lindokuhle was a young activist known as a humble but fearless visionary who was deeply committed to his community and to a more just society. He was the chairperson of the eKhanana Commune, which was established as a community of refuge and hope, and where he also headed the youth political school. Lindokuhle was also imprisoned on two occasions on trumped up charges as part of a sustained effort to intimidate him. The Commune has been under persistent attack, with orchestrated assaults on its leaders since the beginning of 2021. Just a few months ago, Lindokuhle witnessed the assassination of his comrade, Ayanda Ngila while Ayanda worked the communal garden. Right now, at least 15 members of the movement are in hiding.

My Vote Counts echoes the words of Abahlali’s President, S’bu Zikode, in his reflection of Lindokuhle’s death: “It’s worrying when such killings are normalised. It’s the only concern I have. Our democracy is coming to its end where there will be nobody left to speak [about how] the lives of people count for nothing.”

Indeed, our democracy is under serious threat when we allow members of the political elite to use violence and murder to silence activists for simply expressing their constitutional rights.

As we mourn the death of Lindokuhle Mnguni, Ayanda Ngila, Siyabonga Manqela, Nokuthula Mabaso and the 20 other activists, we pledge solidarity to Abahlali baseMjondolo. In our commitment to strengthen and deepen democracy, we strongly condemn the sustained attacks on this crucial movement.

We call on members of the media to focus more resources on reporting on these sustained attacks. We call on our supporters, partners, and other members of civil society to join the condemnation and pledge solidarity to Abahlali. Collectively we must put pressure on the Minister of Police to investigate the assassination of Lindokuhle Mnguni and other activists and push back against this threat to our democracy.

Issued by My Vote Counts