“We didn’t know that baby Jayden would be the price we’d pay for raising our grievances”

On Monday, 29 May, residents of the Foreman Road informal settlement marched to the Sydenham police station after the death of two-week-old Jayden Khoza, reportedly after inhaling teargas that was fired by the police near his home. Residents had been protesting for land and housing, and clashed with the police. At Khoza’s funeral, which was held on Saturday, The Daily Vox spoke to resident, T’man Ngidi about the community’s concerns.

We organised the protest. We didn’t know that baby Jayden would be the price we’d pay for raising our grievances. Our struggle at Foreman Road has been ongoing for the past decade but people don’t really know about it. What started as a blockade that would get the eThekwini officials to hear our cries ended as a tragedy for us, but it wasn’t the first time.

We have been living in a pigsty for years now but we voted. Many lives have been lost in this settlement as a result of poor living conditions but nothing has been done about it. We protest and shut down the whole of Clare Hills but nothing changes, we vote and wait for the change but things only get worse.

We are the poor people of this area but we are still being victimised and assaulted by police. Had it not been for the police brutality, Jayden would still be alive. We are not at peace, the municipality is not doing anything about our situation. Councillors come into power and go but there is never betterment in our lives.

Whenever we bring up the question of housing we are constantly told that the area is out of budget. This is a ridiculous explanation that has been given to us ever since we started voting and were considered as part of this ward. We are not being oblivious to the fact that when we first came here we were told that we cannot dwell as it was illegal, but we have fought that battle and won it. We do have our own places now we just need the government to build us proper houses.

Some of us do work but it’s odd jobs that we find here and there. We have scores of unemployed youth who need to be out there working but there are no jobs. We are not fighting with anyone but we demand houses, land and dignity, that’s all. We want the mayor of eThekwini to take us serious and it has become clear to us that she will only take us serious if we go out there and barricade. It’s sad though that whenever we protest we place our children’s lives at risk, police chase us all over this settlement and even go inside our shacks. That’s how we have lost Jayden but his spirit won’t go in vain. The people of the community have spoken and the struggle shall continue.

According to Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesperson, Moses Dlamini, the police post mortem confirmed that the cause of the infant’s death was due to natural causes. However, Abahlali basemJondolo (AbM) spokesperson Thapelo Mohapi said they had been told the post mortem had not been completed, and so an independent pathologist has been hired to establish the cause of the infant’s death.

Edited for brevity and clarity