Durban: Evict refugees because “FIFA World Cup is around the corner”

1 November 2008

Patrick Bond, Centre for Civil Society, University KwaZulu-Natal wrote:

Just taking a break from the scene of the confrontation, at Albert Park in central Durban, and have more information which can be verified by numerous witnesses:

  • around 50 refugees, mainly women and children, were approached at 8am by Durban police, without warning, and their plastic shelters destroyed and most of their possessions confiscated
  • the constable in charge of the operation has gone on record saying that the original orders were to evict the refugees at 9pm last night, but for ‘humanitarian’ reasons they delayed until this morning;
  • the constable named city manager Mike Sutcliffe as the man responsible (“the great white shark”) and said that his orders were to clear the area both because “2010 is around the corner” and because on Tuesday, there is a major ANC imbizo planned for the park, with high-ranking politicians expected;
  • Sutcliffe spent a few minutes on the telephone with Sayed-Iqbal Mohamed of the Organization of Civil Rights, telling Mohamed that he could do nothing, and that this was now a police matter;
  • the police have no information about victims’ human rights during displacement and evictions (i.e. that alternative accommodation must be provided), and they simply expect the refugees to disappear with their remaining belongings
  • after a two hour wait, a city ambulance has just taken away one women refugee who collapsed during the scuffling this morning; there was some manhandling of especially children who tried to prevent goods from being confiscated;
  • the churches we’ve spoken to so far have no money so are turning down the refugees’ request for immediate shelter
  • Durban police captain Ragavan said that confiscated goods have been taken to the police department impoundment area;
  • the media have flocked to the scene, but in addition to support for immediate shelter, lawyers are still needed.(E-mail from Social Movement Indaba listserve)