|PADKOS NO 14
|Victories along the way undoubtedly help sustain us on the journey of struggle. This Padkos marks Abahlali baseMjondolo’s court victory on the 18th July when all of the ‘Kennedy 12’ were acquitted on all charges – nearly 3 years after the Kennedy Road attack. Three documents written after that court decision are attached for your Padkos. The collapse of the prosecution case, and the Magistrate’s comments when acquitting the 12, lends real credibility to the movement’s version of the events of 2009. By contrast, they expose the fundamental weakness of the unfounded slanders made against the movement – sometimes hysterical, sometimes subtle, but invariably hostile and dishonest.
That attack, and the prosecution of the subsequent court case, was just one instance in a sustained, but thus far failed, campaign to weaken or destroy Abahlali. What’s at stake, in every instance, are the autonomous spaces of grassroots resistance and life, that movements like Abahlali continue to carve out. That is why the defence of that space, and genuine solidarity with the formations that keep it open, matters – matters not only for the movement itself, but for everyone. That is also why the acquittal of the 12 really is something to celebrate.
In the hours following the Magistrate’s decision, CLP worked closely with Bishop Rubin Phillip to prepare what became the first public statement commenting on Abahlali’s victory. That statement is attached. It repeats some of the powerful comments that the Bishop had just made in an impromptu speech to the crowd of comrades that had gathered at the court. It also repeats the important point that “we must face the uncomfortable questions this case has raised”. The Bishop is right. It is important not to let the closure of the court case foreclose those ‘uncomfortable questions’. In the coming months, CLP will work with others to frame and explore what those questions are, and what we can and must learn from the experience.
Richard Pithouse already offers some important beginnings in this task. In the week following the acquittal, he has penned one of the first reflective pieces, thinking through the meaning of what has gone down here. With Richard’s permission, we share his remarkable essay “A Path Through the Embers” as well. The piece opens quoting poetry from Chris Abani: “Hope is a fragile moth wing, unsure in the winter sun”; it closes: “The path through the embers is made by walking and it will be no easy walk to freedom”.
The third and final attachment is a statement from CLP ourselves. This statement was not written for or released to the media; until now it has not been distributed on the internet. Until now, the only copy ‘out there’ was personally signed by all staff and the Chairperson of our Board, and was presented to Abahlali baseMjondolo at Kennedy Road on Sunday, the 24th July. The statement is titled “Tears and Dancing and Moving Forward at Kennedy Road” and is attached. Early in the following week, some reaction we’ve already had to that statement was a comment from within the movement that: “CLP doesn’t often make statements, but when you do, they matter. We’ve re-read that statement from you more than four times now. It’s really powerful – like a full seminar! Please can we share it more widely and put it on our website” – so here it is.
Read the attachment – A Path Through the Embers
Read the statement – Bishop Rubin’s Statement
Read the attachment – Dancing and tears