Over a year after the assassination of 29-year-old Ayanda Ngila, the socialist militant shack dwellers’ movement in South Africa Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) has finally had a breakthrough in their struggle for justice for its slain leader.
Ngila was shot by four gunmen at AbM’s eKhenana Commune in Cato Manor, Durban, on March 8, 2022. On Monday, July 24, the Durban Magistrate’s Court sentenced Khaya Ngubane, who had led the attack, to 15 years in prison for the murder of Ngila. The ruling came a week after Ngubane was convicted.
“None of these judgments will return Ayanda Ngila to us, but we are happy that justice has been served at least in this case… We are grateful for the courage that [is]… within our organization, and there is also the solidarity from our allies, who have given us strength. We have not given up,” AbM’s president, S’bu Zikode, had told Peoples Dispatch ahead of Monday’s sentencing.
A member of the youth league of the African National Congress in Cato Crest, Ngubane is the son of Samson Ngubane, whom AbM has described as an “ANC-aligned, Zionist Christian [c]hurch pastor.” On the day of the murder, Khaya Ngubane and the other gunmen had also attempted to assassinate Lindokuhle Mnguni, the chairperson of the eKhenana Commune.
While Mnguni was able to escape, Ngila, who was the Commune’s deputy chairperson, was shot multiple times. In August of that year, Mnguni too fell victim to assassins’ bullets. Eyewitnesses said his assassins were part of the hit squad that had killed Ngila.
AbM has faced horrific violence for struggling for “Land, Housing, Dignity” for the poor and working class. To date, 24 activists have been killed. There have been convictions in only three cases.
“Ayanda was a dedicated leader who played a key role in building the eKhenana Commune… He was deeply committed to building democratic organization and power among the oppressed, to the equality of women and men[,] and the struggle for socialism,” AbM said in a statement on July 18.