Help Abahlali baseMjondolo bury S'fiso Ngcobo, leader assassinated outside his home.
The chairperson of the eKukhanyeni local branch of the Abahlali baseMjondolo shack dwellers’ movement
S’fiso Ngcobo was a land rights activist and the chairperson of the eKukhanyeni local branch of the Abahlali baseMjondolo shack dwellers’ movement. Born in Pietermatizburg on 14 March 1969, he was assassinated on Tuesday night, 22 May 2018, at around 7:30pm in eKukhayeni, in Marianhill, west of Durban. He was buying a cold drink at a shop which is a few meters from his home when he was shot seven times by three unknown men and rushed to a hospital where he later died at the age of 49.
He had received death threats and was aware that he was not safe. According to his widow, Phumzile Mkhize, being the chair of Abahlali baseMjondolo put a target on his back, placing him at odds with the city and local political officials and the municipality unit tasked to halt land invasions. She recalls a time she asked him to resign, to which he responded “you can’t escape death, everyone will die eventually.”
Abahlali baseMjondolo is a shack dwellers movement which was formed in 2005 to help thousands of South Africans who were being left homeless after the eThekwini Municipality implemented a ‘slum clearance programme,’ which meant that the informal shack settlements would be demolished subjecting the shack dwellers to unlawful forced evictions. The main objective of Abahlali was to oppose the agenda of demolitions and forced removals and to struggle for good land and quality housing in the cities. S’fiso joined the movement after he approached to offices of Abahlali in search of help for the homeless who were being harassed and having their possessions destroyed by the police.
He led an assembly that was held on the Saturday before his death in the branch in eKukhanyeni in Marianhill where he addressed over 1000 people and was critical of the ANC. There is said to be ongoing tension between the Abahlali and the leaders of the the local ANC in the Marianridge and the Marianhill areas as well as business interests who are believed to depend on the ruling party for tenders. And community members are still being illegally and violently evicted in violation of an interdict from the Durban High Court. After that meeting, members of the movement reported that they were being threatened.
Ngcobo is one of five leaders who have been killed in the last eight months for the organisation’s struggle for land in KwaZulu-Natal. Members alleged that since since 2009 when they were openly attacked by the ANC with the support of the police and the leading figures in the ruling party, including Willies Mchunu, assassinations have proliferated. Other members and leaders have faced brutal attacks, endured severe injuries and had to fight for their lives.
Comrade S’fiso Ngcobo loved his community. He opened a creche so that children of shack dwellers could learn. He dreamt that their society would be one where basic services such as water, electricity, sanitation and access to education would be provided. He left his previous job as a machine operator to focus on community work. He led the land occupation in eKukhanyeni, Marianhill, against the opposition of the municipality and successfully interdicted a private security group from evicting the community.
To those that he represented, he is regarded as a strong, charismatic but humble leader. He was held in high respect in his community and in the movement. “A man of the people”. He denounced xenophobia and encouraged “Ubuhlali”, a spirit of belonging, where everyone counts. The community of eKukhanyeni and the movement of Abahlali baseMjondolo are at a great loss over his death.
Ngcobo left behind his wife and four children in despair with the prospects of life without him in much to bear. He was the breadwinner and sole provider for his family. Members and leaders of the organisation hope to bury him with the dignity and honour that he was denied in life. To help the Ngcobo family to pay for his funeral expenses, we ask that you to make a donation of any amount and uplift the spirit of “Ubuhlali”.