Thapelo Mohapi loves listening to jazz and supporting his favourite football teams, the Mamelodi Sundowns and Manchester City. But right now he can’t enjoy these things like he used to. Since 2021, he has been forced to live in hiding because of threats to his life. 

As general secretary of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM), a vibrant and courageous grassroots movement, Thapelo has dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of people across South Africa, particularly in areas suffering economic hardship. 

One such place is eKhenana, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Most residents are economic migrants from rural South Africa who have moved to seek a better life. They cannot afford the high costs of living in the area and often end up making homes from tin, with little to no access to water or sanitation. They also face police brutality, forced evictions and poor public services, amongst many other challenges. 

Determined to improve lives in the community, AbM members in eKhenana have spoken out against cases of local government corruption and worked hard to improve life in their community by starting a school, farm, communal kitchen and shop. In return, they have been met with not just resistance but threats, harassment and intimidation from state officials who have incited violence against them. They have been victims of attempted and actual murders, violence, harassment, and damage to their homes. In 2022 alone, three AbM members were killed in eKhenana. 

Tell the police to thoroughly and effectively investigate the harassment and killings of AbM members.