DURBAN – Shack dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo said on Wednesday that it welcomed the arrest of eThekwini Municipality mayor Zandile Gumede.
"We welcome the arrest of the gangster mayor of Durban for corruption and money laundering. We were not surprised by the arrest of councillor Zandile Gumede, the mayor of eThekwini. The corruption in Durban had become so brazen, and supported with such brazen thuggery, that eventually the state had to act," said Abahlali founder and president S’bu Zikode.
Gumede, along with an eThekwini Municipality councillor and a businessman, handed herself over to police on Tuesday morning.
The trio appeared at the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on a string of charges that included fraud, corruption and racketeering in relation to a Durban Solid Waste tender.
They were released on R50 000 bail and will appear again in August alongside several other accused who were arrested two weeks ago for their alleged part in the same crime.
"Like many gangster politicians when her arrest finally came it was hidden from the public and the media. It is reported that she and the other accused were able to hand themselves over to the police. It is also reported that she was able to use the back door to enter the court to escape media attention. A poor person arrested for insisting to be treated like a human being will never be treated with these courtesies," said Zikode.
He said when the poor – such as Abahlali members – spoke out about the looting of state resources, they faced "death threats, arrests, assault, torture and assassination".
The African National Congress (ANC) had "made it clear" to Abahlali that as long as it remained the governing party, only ANC members would receive services and houses, said Zikode.
Abahlali has 55 000 members in KwaZulu-Natal and is known to have a frosty relationship with Gumede.
Zikode has previously called her "the mayor of lies" and has accused her of making promises to shack dwellers but not fulfilling them. The group is also known to protest – often violently – for basic services in and around the Durban area.
Zikode said that some of the money Gumede was accused of "laundering" was meant to provide water and sanitation to the city’s shack settlements.
"We have been struggling for access to services in our occupations and settlements for many years. When our struggles are successful, and money is allocated to the poor, the politicians shamelessly steal it for themselves. They profit from our suffering and our struggles. They eat for us, and on our behalf. The ANC in the province, and nationally, have repeatedly been made aware of this yet for years they were silent and defensive," said Zikode.
African News Agency (ANA)