Freedom News

Abahlali baseMjondolo Women’s League celebrate Women’s Day

Freedom continues its coverage of Abahlali baseMjondolo, a South African movement of shack dwellers who organise land occupations and communes. Women’s League issued this statement:

Today we celebrate Women’s Day, which is held on the anniversary of the Women’s March in 1956 when 20 000 women marched against the “pass laws” which mandated people of colour to carry an internal passport and severely restricted their movement. The march was also about the wider issues of patriarchy, racism and classism. The women who led the march were Hellen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi, Albertina Sisulu and Sophia Williams De Bruyn, and we honour them each year. We also remember and honour the women who were at the forefront of the riots in Cato Manor in 1959, including Dorothy Nyembe and Florence Mkhize. Women living in shacks played a major role in the struggle against apartheid and continue to play a major role in today’s struggles.

Today we honour the women who have given their lives in our struggle.

Nqobile Nzuza was shot from behind by the police in Cato Manor during a protest on 30 September 2013. After a long struggle, a police officer was later convicted of this murder.

Thuli Ndlovu was assassinated in her home in KwaNdengezi on 29 September 2014. After another long struggle, two ANC councillors and their assassin were convicted for this murder.

Zamekile Shangase was shot dead by the police in Asiyindawo, Lamontville, on 29 July 2021 during a ‘show your receipt’ raid. There has been impunity for this murder.

Nokuthula Mabaso was assassinated in the eKhenana Commune on 5 May 2022. Samson and Mhlanganyelwa Ngubane, both powerful people in the local ANC with connections to the taxi mafia, were arrested and charged with murder, but the charges were provisionally withdrawn after the autopsy results were ‘lost’. 

We will continue to demand justice for Zamekile and Nokuthula.

Nokuthula once said that “We didn’t choose this life, but landlessness made us live like this”. The price for land and dignity cannot be continued to be paid in blood.

The spirits of Nqobile, Thuli, Zamkile and Nokuthula live in us, and we honour their lives.

We cannot continue to accept evictions, social abandonment and impoverishment. We cannot continue to accept the violence that is all around us. We need to build a peaceful society in which there is full equality between men and women, a society in which land, wealth and power are shared. We need to build socialism from below. To get there, we need to build women’s power by organising ourselves from below. We need to support each other, to encourage a family feeling in our branches as we face impoverishment, state violence and violence in society, landlessness and the epidemic of substance abuse that affects many of our children.

We will be holding two events for Women’s Day. In Durban, there will be an event at the YMCA hall in Durban, starting at 9 am Today. We will be joined by women from other progressive organisations and will discuss all the issues facing us as women. There will also be a workshop in Mpumalanga on 13 August discussing women’s rights and the role of women in the struggle, in our communities and in our homes. It will be held at the Amersfoort community hall at 9:00.

Now is the time to say Enough is Enough!

Now is the time to honour the fallen!

Now is the time to build women’s power from below and in the struggle!

Land & Dignity!

Image: K. Kendall / CC BY 2.0 / Lesotho women protesting violence against women at a National Women’s Day protest at the National University of Lesotho 2008.

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