Abahlali baseMjondolo  is a shackdwellers’ movement in South Africa. Together with the Landless People’s Movement, the Rural Network, and the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) is part of the Poor People’s Alliance, a radical social movement focused on housing as a human right in South Africa. AbM does not participate in party politics and boycotts elections while demanding that the social value of urban land should take priority over its commercial value. They organize horizontally and democratically and have been called the most effective social movement in South Africa. Since their inception in 2005 they have faced considerable repression from the ANC (African National Congress party), the Democratic Alliance (political party), and the state at all levels.

     The above pictures are two days old, and show the blood of a woman who was shot (and still lives) while in bed. The young boy in the pictures is the woman’s six year old son who was present.

    On June 26th members of Abahlali baseMjondolo and the Unemployed People’s Movement peacefully occupied an ANC ward councilor’s (settlement administrator) offices . While occupying they set up commissions to hold discussions on unemployment, housing, and safety. Through non-violent direct action they took over a government office and began to democratically use the space as it should be used.

     The police arrived around 1PM and the occupation dispersed peacefully. At about 6PM members of the Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) caught word that ANC supporters were planning on burning down the councilor’s office and blaming it on the UPM to serve as an excuse to arrest key activists. UPM and AbM activists decided to rush back to the office and protect it from destruction. According to AbM they “want this office to be a people’s office. We do not want it to be destroyed.”

     When the approximately 3000 activists arrived to protect the building the police were waiting and immediately opened fire with rubber bullets, tear gas, and live ammunition. The activists dispersed and police then attacked the nearby Zakheleni Shack Settlement, choosing their victims at random. Two people were shot with live ammunition. One of the victims was shot while in her bed with her six year old son in the home.

According to the local police Lt. Colonel Vincent Mdunge “No one was shot last night. It’s all lies.”