Pretoria Mob Performs Illegal Eviction of Arts House in South Africa

Sunnyside, Hatfield, Pretoria, South Africa — 10 June 2017

Mthubi the Hub resident artist Gaza speaks with SAPS officer while eviction team mob removes property from the arts house.

Early Saturday morning around 8am a group of roughly 40-50 people, claiming to be a medley of community associations, stormed the property of Mthubi the Hub, a nonprofit arts organization based near Hatfield at 1005 Arcadia Street. The mob ransacked the arts house throwing all the artists’ furniture, property, and artwork out on the street. Damaging and destroying paintings, furniture, and art installations, the mob verbally harassed and intimidated the young artists while four SAPS officers stood guard to prevent violence between the two groups.

 

The illegal eviction, executed with no court order or legal mandate, turned violent in several brief moments. Members of the “eviction team” began punching, pushing, pulling hair, and wrestling with the small group of 8 or so artists. The artists pleaded with the police and the leaders of the mob, and arguments grew more and more intense. The members of the mob said the house is used for prostitution and drugs, but evidence was not found and no charges were filed. Nobody in the eviction team mob would agree to speak on the record or give their name publicly.

 

“They crushed my dreams, they stripped our artwork down, literally that’s what they did,” says an exasperated Sallie Maloka, Co-founder and resident artist at Mthubi.

 

She continues, explaining the violent nature of the illegal mob eviction, “They manhandled us. Especially the men were very physical and threatening toward the ladies. They also accused us of being prostitutes and running a drug house.”

 

“Some of the associates of the mob claimed that they were sent by the University of Pretoria to ransack the house and cause chaos here,” says Izah Kutsh, deputy chairperson of Mthubi the Hub, “which we find very disappointing because we invited the university to partner with us on some of our projects.” He says previously lecturers from UP have utilized the arts house for meetings.

 

The Hub, established in 2016 and registered as an NPO, hosts poetry sessions, yoga classes, reading clubs, and music shows, all with a focus on African arts and cultural practices. “In that sense, it is very cultural. We are open to all and just about anything can happen here,” says Mthubi the Hub chairperson Amanda Mjindi.

 

“No drugs or anything, arts and culture only” she adds, referencing the allegations of the eviction mob.

 

View from the sidewalk out front of Mthubi the Hub after the illegal eviction on Saturday 10 June 2017.

 

“Mthubi the hub is a collective of artists who have identified the space as an abandoned building and occupied it to establish an arts and cultural hub,” explains Kutsh. “We have taken many strides to insure that artists have a sustainable environment to produce and exhibit their works. We’ve made communication to the community as well as our local municipality and Gauteng Infrastructure, informing them of our presence in the space,” he explains.

 

Despite this communication and the space operating as an arts NPO, the police did nothing to stop the informal eviction team mob from removing and destroying the organization’s property and artwork.

 

Hub chairperson Mjindi says that not all of the eviction team mob were strangers to the space. “Three of the men were here a few days before the incident” she explains. “I spoke to them personally, I showed them around our space, told them about our challenges, so they knew that inside, here in the front yard, there are great things happening. There are young people doing amazing things, so they were quite aware of this.”

 

The backyard is a different story.

 

Mjindi concedes “our space has inherited the problem we have in the back of our yard” referring to the eviction team’s drug use allegation. “You have the house as it is and it works as an arts hub. If you walk around back you would realize it’s quite a large yard. Recently [the backyard] operated as a recycling site,” she explains, “so a lot of men come around to weigh what they’ve done for the day as far as bottles and cans. That followed with drinking and drugs because these people don’t go home, you know, they’re right there on the low end of our beautiful economy. These people smoke and drink and retire there.”

 

The residents of Mthubi the Hub have tried calling the police to get the men in the back removed, to no avail. Desperately screaming this to the eviction team mob, the artists tried unsuccessfully to disassociate the arts house from the large back yard and it’s indigent inhabitants.

 

Members of the eviction team mob sorting through Mthubi the Hub property without a warrant, looking for illegal contraband.

 

When Mthubi house resident Phanwell Mphahlele returned Saturday from a morning meeting, he found strangers in his room throwing his belongings in trash bags:

 

“I got into the room where I sleep and I found this guy busy with a trash bag. I asked him ‘where is my stuff’ then he just told me he doesn’t know. When I went outside there was one wearing my jacket. When I ask him ‘where did you get this jacket,’ he said ‘this jacket is mine.’ Then I’m like ‘how can it be yours, this is mine, there is a marking on the back of it.’ After he saw the mark he was embarrassed and took it off. After that I started yelling at him ‘you know where the rest of my stuff is’ then these people that were with him started chasing me away.”

 

After removing every item of personal property from the bright, yellow, two-story house and leaving it haphazardly on the street side, the mob chained and locked the doors and walked away en mass, verbally harassing the protesting artists on the way. A couple artists, including Mphahlele, chased after the group saying they had stolen their belongings. More violence erupted as the artists demanded their property back. After a chase down to the next block, they did indeed get their stolen shoes back from the thief when police intervened, but SAPS refused to arrest the individual who took them.

 

“When we got to him we asked him why he was running and why stealing sneakers. Before he could answer the people with him came to protect him and we started fighting with them. Then it was resolved by the police and we told them to arrest the guy but they never did.” recounts Mphalele.

 

A couple hours later the artists returned to the house, broke the chains, and reclaimed their space. All of their belongings strewn along the dirt by the street, they began to clean and re-organize their upturned lives.  As the struggling artists worked to clean up the mess left by the mob and sort through their belongings, two Tshwane Municipality police officers driving by stopped to inquire about the situation. The officers affirmed the artists’ claims that the eviction was illegal without court mandate, and gave them instructions on how to file a complaint at the Sunnyside headquarters.

 

“We weren’t approached properly by the people who came because it wasn’t their fight,” says Mjindi, “they were just hired help. I feel that the people really behind us being approached like that are not the ones we met that day. Which is what made it so painful and difficult, because we weren’t dealing with who has a problem with us.

 

“I feel sad and disappointed,” says Mphahlele “. . . how can our black brothers and sisters do this to their own black brothers and sisters?!”

 

 

View from the house after the eviction team mob left.

 

 

Mthubi the Hub was established with the South African Department of Social Development on 11 October 2016 with registration number: 179-054 NPO

 

###

Written by Jonathan B. Tucker

 

 

listen first

.

you can buy your own freedom and enslave yourself
shop for special deals and buy somebody else

.
a drink at a bar can consume you drop by drop
sell you your thirst back then hand you a mop

.
to clean up your life you need more than soap
discipline to disinfect and let your sins soak

.
bubbles don’t break they pop and disappear
don’t ask for a hand until you’ve asked for an ear

.

 

 

 

__________________________

just a lil somethin new i’m workin on

short poem

 

i love to say hello
hate to say goodbye

look you up and down
then look you in the eye

yearning for the future
nostalgic for what’s passed

wanna change the world
but we’re still buying gas

consumer and producer
are we making love

or am i just a pigeon
mistaken for a dove

 

pigeon

 

Allen’s video project about me

turned out very well
many interviews
constantly telling my story
people are curious
Allen Michael McNair followed me for a few weeks
was very dedicated
and put together a nice piece

a video about me

“Spoken to the Youth” by Allen Michael McNair

 

photo update

here are a bunch of photos of me from the past couple years.

all around the world

i’ve been traveling a lot without updating my website. my apologies.

in the summer of 2015 i took the DC Youth Slam Team to New York City, Philadelphia, Virginia Beach, Atlanta, Johannesburg, Tshwane, and Cape Town, South Africa. right now i am in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (with no young poets) for a much needed 2-week vacation. i have many photos, videos, and stories to share from each location. hopefully i will find the time to put some of them up here.

in the meantime, check out some of our photos on the DCYST fb page.

i need to do more writing and performing. that is a goal for the upcoming months/year.

South African Poets Join Hundreds of DC Area Teens for High School Poetry Slam Festival

South African Poets Join Hundreds of DC Area Teens for High School Poetry Slam Festival

Washington, DC – The nation’s capital is home to both the youth and adult reigning national poetry slam champion teams from 2014. The Beltway Poetry Slam Team won the National Poetry Slam and the DC Youth Slam Team won the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival. With the two highest ranking poetry slam teams in the nation working in local after-school programs through nonprofits Split This Rock and poetryN.O.W., the national capital area is about to explode with poetry in the 4th annual Louder Than a Bomb DMV Teen Poetry Slam Festival (LTAB) April 18 – May 2, 2015.

A special delegation of South African poets that the DC Youth Slam Team met in 2013 in the City of Tshwane are making their first trip to the United States to teach classes, facilitate workshops, host slams, and perform at LTAB. Their visit to DC is through a Sister Cities International Arts Grant from the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities.  LTAB kicks off with “Crossing The Street” on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at the historic Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, 101 N St, NW at noon. The Festival brings together over 25 high school poetry slam teams for two weeks of poetry workshops, open mics, MC competitions, film screenings, discussions, and a slam tournament, culminating with the Grand Slam Finals Saturday, May 2, 2015 at the University of the District of Columbia Theatre of the Arts, 4200 Connecticut Ave, NW featuring award-winning poet Danez Smith.

Over 200 student poets participated in the regional festival and competition last year, with Cesar Chavez Public Charter School winning the 2014 championship. Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Washington, DC won the competition in both 2012 and 2013. Each school club brings a team of 4-6 students to perform their own original individual and group poems in multiple rounds of poetry slam. Registration for local high school teams is open now until April 1, 2015. Teams may register online at this link: http://poetrynowva.com/ltab-dmv-2015-1

The goal of LTAB-DMV is not solely to promote a culture of literacy, critical thought, self-confidence, and powerful public speaking, but also to purposefully bring students together across dividing lines like region, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socio-economic status, and politics, to listen to, learn from, and bond with one another. There is vast inequality in the DC area. These students are speaking up about that, sharing their experiences, and speaking out on many other important issues. They deserve to be heard.

According to one student participant “[LTAB] is an amazing way to bring people from all different backgrounds together to learn and grow as people and as poets. I met and spoke to people I would not have otherwise, and it felt great to be in a space where people understand you when you open up on stage.”

Most Festival events are free. The Preliminary Slams, Semi-Finals, Youth Open Mic, and Finals are ticketed events. Please see the schedule of festival events below.

 

Festival Events

Crossing The Street  –  Sat. April 18, 2015 11am – 3pm Dunbar High 101 N St, NW

Youth Open Mic – Sat. April 18, 2015 5 – 7pm Busboys and Poets 5th & K, 1025 5th St, NW

Preliminary Slams

●  Mon. April 20th 6:30 – 9pm @ Busboys and Poets 14th & V, 2021 14th St, NW

●  Tues. April 21st 6:30 – 9pm @ Busboys and Poets Shirlington 4251 S. Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA

●  Weds. April 22nd 6:30 – 9pm @ Busboys and Poets Hyattsville, 5331 Baltimore Ave, Hyattsvile, MD

●  Thurs. April 23rd 6:30 – 9pm @ Busboys and Poets Brookland 625 Monroe St, NE

Floetic Friday Open Mic – Fri. April 24th 5:30 – 8pm @ Metro Teen AIDS 651 Pennsylvania Ave, SE

Poetry Prom – Fri. April 24th 8pm – 12am @ Josephine Butler Center 2437 15th St, NW

Anacostia Community Museum Slam – Sat. April 25th 5 – 7pm @ Smithsonian ACM 1901 Fort Pl SE

Brookland Spring Concert – Sun. April 26th 2 – 6pm @ Brookland Arts Walk, 7th & Monroe, NE

Film Screening & Workshop – Tues. April 28th 4 – 7pm @ Split This Rock 1112 16th St, NW

Semi-Finals  Weds. April 29th 5 – 9pm @ True Reformer Bldg 1200 U St, NW

Louder Than A Library – Thurs. April 30th 6 – 8:30pm @ Anacostia Library 1800 Good Hope Rd, SE

Finals  Sat. May 2nd 7 – 9:30pm @ UDC Theatre of Arts 4200 Connecticut Ave, NW Bldg 46

Visit www.LTABDMV.com for more information.

Louder Than A Library

In partnership with DC Public Libraries, we are hosting a series of Louder Than A Library teen poetry workshops leading up to the Festival and the culminating Louder Than A Library Showcase Performance and Open Mic on April 30th. All are free and open to the poetry-loving public.

Workshops

Ø  Tues. April 7th 5 – 7pm @ Bellvue Library 115 Atlantic St, SW

Ø  Tues. April 14th 5 – 7pm @ Anacostia Library 1800 Good Hope Rd, SE

The Louder Than a Bomb DMV Teen Poetry Slam Festival is a joint venture between poetryN.O.W. and Split This Rock, with generous support from Busboys and Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts and the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities. Part of the global Louder Than a Bomb network, LTAB-DMV is one of many regional LTAB’s across the world working with Young Chicago Authors to bring their successful after-school team poetry slam program to teenagers everywhere.

Email SLAM@SplitThisRock.org for more information.

Split This Rock, 1112 16th St, NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036 – 202.787.5210

 www.SplitThisRock.org

poetryN.O.W.

www.poetryNOWVA.com

 

Bobbi Johnson performing at LTABDMV 2014

Bobbi Johnson performing at LTABDMV 2014