Our Comrade has been fatally stabbed
On this Human Rights Day, Reclaim the City marches in remembrance of our Comrade, Zamuxolo Patrick Dolophini, who we knew as Rasta.
On Sunday night, Comrade Rasta was fatally stabbed outside Ahmed Kathrada House in Green Point. He tried to make his way to the Somerset Hospital, but died from his wounds on the street because he could not stop the bleeding.
Very few people saw what happened and we don’t yet know the full details. Other occupiers living at Ahmed Kathrada House came outside when they heard the news, and they were soon joined by Reclaim the City supporters from across the inner city.
That night, the Sea Point police arrested a security guard working for a private security company contracted by the Province to protect the House. It is believed that this security guard stabbed our Comrade.
Everybody in our movement knew Comrade Rasta. He came from Marikana in Philippi to support the occupation in the early days. Many of the occupiers are elderly people, women and children and he came when we were cleaning up the derelict rooms and making homes for members who were being evicted or could no longer pay the rent. He brought perspective, wisdom and fearlessness from another land struggle to the House when we were finding our feet and he would split his time between the House and his work fishing at sea. He helped to protect occupiers against criminals and thugs who threatened us.
He met Comrade Elizabeth Gqoboka, another leader in our movement in Sea Point, in the House and last month they were engaged to be married. He is survived by two children, a sister and a brother and we send our condolences and support to all of them.
Our struggle continues
Comrade Rasta’s death is not an isolated incident. In late 2017, whole floors of the building were captured with the support of the same security guards. Over the last few months, Comrade Rasta and our other leaders have become a target for intimidation by opportunists, thugs and members of political parties with ulterior agendas. Since then, our leaders have been dragged out of their rooms in the middle of the night by Sea Point police and arrested again and again on spurious charges.
We occupied Ahmed Kathrada House because we are desperate for housing. Because we cannot afford to pay our rents anymore. Because we don’t want to live on the street when we are evicted. Because we don’t want to be sent to relocation camps to be forgotten. Because we are tired of living in distant informal settlements and townships. Because we have little land, no security and we are tired of being shot at and our houses knocked down by the police and the anti-land invasion unit.
We occupied Ahmed Kathrada House because we too have a right to live in the City. A right to walk on the promenade. A right to have a view of the sea. A right to raise our children and care for our parents in good areas where there are good schools and good hospitals.
We occupied Ahmed Kathrada House because the City, the Province and the National Government have failed us. They say we must wait patiently and the land and housing will come. But it never does and most likely it never will unless we organise against the property power that maintains spatial apartheid.
We occupied Ahmed Kathrada House because we want to bring the struggles of poor and working class Black and Coloured people back to the centre of our City, to the seat of power, and to the land that matters.
We occupied Ahmed Kathrada House because we are ordinary people who are forced to take extraordinary steps to live a decent and dignified life. We are young people looking for work. We are mothers with children working as cleaners and nurses. We are elderly people who have worked our whole lives in the city and now have nowhere to go.
Our response to the Western Cape Government
Last week, the Western Cape Government dropped off letters in a box saying we are unlawful occupiers, vandals and that we must vacate the building so that social housing can be built here.
When the Western Cape Government says we are unlawful occupiers, we say we are a couple of hundred occupiers amongst thousands and thousands in this city occupying state and private land. This struggle is the struggle of all for access to land and security of tenure.
When the Western Cape Government says we are vandals and break sewerage and electricity, we say we are like most poor and working class Black and Coloured people in this City who still share taps and temporary toilets that don’t flush and live daily with the stench of sewerage. The toilets here get blocked because you turned off the water. This struggle is the struggle of all for decent sanitation.
When the Western Cape Government says that we must vacate and move on elsewhere, we say we are like most poor and working class Black and Coloured people in this City who have nowhere to go when evicted and displaced. This struggle is the struggle of all for decent affordable housing and transitional housing for evictees.
And so, when the Western Cape Government says that they want to build social housing, we say that this is welcome. But we also remember that it was the Western Cape Government that tried to sell Tafelberg for cash and then lied about their reasons and it is the Western Cape Government that continues to sell public land across the inner city.
We want the Western Cape Government to engage with us and tell us their plans, not just for Ahmed Kathrada House, but for all well-located public land in the inner city and surrounds.
We want the Western Cape Government to hear our struggles about why we are here.
We want the Western Cape Government to end the contract of this security company that is neither protecting us nor the building. It cannot be that the right to property comes before the right to dignity, equality and life itself.
We want the Sea Point police to properly investigate the killing of our comrade, Zamuxolo Patrick Dolophini, to to protect us from the threat of further violence and to treat us fairly.
Today we march for land and housing
Today, on Human Rights Day we commemorate those who died at Sharpeville during apartheid fighting for justice and equality. Today we march with others in the struggle for land and housing across the city, including the Social Justice Coalition and the District Six Working Committee.
Today we march on all three spheres of government to demand equitable access to land, security of tenure, decent affordable housing in well-located areas, an end to evictions and relocation camps, and a complete disruption of spatial apartheid.
Today, we dedicate this march to Comrade Rasta and we will be marching with black armbands in remembrance of him. The struggle for decent land and housing in the City is a cause that Rasta fought for and a cause that, in the end, he gave his life for.
We will continue to campaign for a desegregation, equality and justice.
We’re too committed to turn back now. We must move forward and reclaim our city. Phambili!