School of Development Studies Research Report, 83, July 2010.
by Kerry Chance
On 26 September 2009, violent attacks by an armed group left two men dead and an estimated thousand displaced at the Kennedy Road shack settlement in the South African city of Durban. This timeline, centered on the night the attacks began to unfold, and upon the Community Hall, proposes three meaningful dimensions: (1) the mobilization of political party affiliation and the specter of an ethnic-other tied to material relations, especially employment and state resources; (2) new modes of policing in an ensuing social drama over a state-backed crackdown on criminal gangs and shebeens; (3) contested claims to political sovereignty articulated through election-time “development” projects. In proposing these three dimensions, this timeline, amid happenings of that day, sketches in broad strokes, shifts in relevant interactions between Abahlali baseMjondolo, a poor peoples’ social movement, and officials, between 2008 and 2009, at the local, municipal, and provincial level. These dimensions, entailing both articulations during the attacks by armed men, as well as post-facto in public statements by officials, coalesced to displace members of Abahlali from their homes and national headquarters in the Kennedy Road settlement.