Ms. Thuli Ndlovu was an important leader of the shack dweller’s movement of South Africa. She was the Chairperson of Abahlali baseMjondolo in KwaNdengezi. The organisation promotes land and housing rights, access to economic and social rights to the most vulnerable, and community-driven processes of industrialisation.
Thuli leaves behind her daughter and son.
“We have learnt in this country that the lives of the poor count for nothing. Many of us have paid a very high price for expressing our views and insisting on our humanity. Some of us have lost our homes and our jobs. Some of us have been tortured, beaten, arrested. Some of us have been assassinated. Our movement has been slandered in the media and banned from speaking to media and to the authorities of our city.”
Abahlali baseMjondolo, on Thuli Ndlovu’s unveiling of ceremony
Ms. Thuli Ndlovu was assassinated on September 29, 2014 in her house. An armed man burst into her home in KwaNdengezi while she was watching TV. He shot her seven times and she died on the scene. There were two other people in the house at the time. One was Sphe Madlala, an 18-year-old neighbour. He finished matric in 2013 and did very well in physics and maths. AbM movement has been trying to help him to get into university. He had come to the house to help Thuli’s 17-year-old daughter, Sli, with her matric studies in maths and science. Sphe was also shot twice in the stomach but she survived. She underwent surgery at RK Khan Hospital in a critical condition. Thuli’s one-year-old son, Freedom, was also in the house at the time of the shooting. He was not physically harmed. Sli was in a separate outside room with her grandmother at the time of the shooting.
An hour before the incident, Ms. Thuli Ndlovu is reported to have seen Mr. Muduzi Ngcobo, the local councillor known as Nqola, at the initiative of a contested “housing project” carried out by the municipality of KwaNdengezi without prior consultation and consent of the populations using the lands where this project was to be implemented, moving around her house. Ms. Thuli Ndlovu is said to have warned her mother, who was also in the house, that “today, we are going to be shot”. She also called one of her comrades in the movement to express her concerns. On several occasions, member of AbM in KwaNdengezi, in particular Ms. Thuli Ndlovu, had reported cases of intimidation and harassment against them by Mr. Nqola. While members of AbM have filed complaints before the local police, all cases of killings, threats, arbitrary arrests and acts of torture have so far remained non-investigated and those allegedly responsible have never been interrogated.
Status of investigation on Thuli Ndlovu’s assassination
On May 20, 2016, Durban High Court found three accused in the trial guilty on count one of murdering Thuli Ndlovu: two suspended ANC Councillors, Velile Lutyeku and Mduduzi Ngcobo, were convicted together with the gunman Mlungisi Ndlovu, who was found guilty of murdering Thuli Ndlovu and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
“We have shown that through organisation and struggle the state can be brought under the control of the people. We will now find closure as we feel justice has been served.”
Abahlali baseMjondolo, on the Durban High Court judgement related to Thuli Ndlovu’s assassination