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Steve Kau – He who died for land

By Andile Mngxitama

A white man murdered a young black man last Sunday. His only sin was to want a piece of land. On Thursday, 17 January 2019, the leadership of Black First Land First (BLF) visited Etwatwa township in Daveyton to pay our respects to the family of the late land warrior, Steve Kau. A 23-year-old Steve was shot in the head by a white man during the struggle for land.

There is no bigger love for black people than losing ones life in the fight for land. This is the love that drove Steve Kau to say Land First! He was part of the community that decided to take a little more land, which is adjacent to their township. He was murdered for daring to take state land to address the pressing housing challenges faced by the black majority.

The land they were occupying is an abandoned forlorn ground overgrown in a swamp. Half built structures now dot the landscape in a disorganized manner giving the place an eerie feeling in an evening of lightening and thunder. The fury of the Gods. Steve Kau’s rebellious spirit welcomes us with a storm. He fell here. Well, no, he didn’t fall, for we remember his name and struggle.

When you arrive at the location where he was killed, you want to stand in the rain and raise your clenched fist high and shout, izwe lethu!

Back at his home, the maternal parents tell us the story of his brave demise. His aunt was there. People took land. The police brought repression through a flood of rubber bullets. Steve took a door and used it as a shield. A plain clothed white man couldn’t stomach the bravery of a black man in the battlefield, so he took out his gun and shot three times using live ammunition. Bullets pierced through the black brave body of the young man whose hunger for land made him take a stand. The final stand. Land or death!

We reported to the family that we had come to pay homage to the soldier who fell in the battle field. We told the family we recognize that the young soldier had heard our call. The stand he took is a stand we stand by too. We told them, we take a bow to his warrior spirit. “If not your child, then whose children should die in the struggle for land?” we asked with heavy hearts. The sacrifice is staggering in its weight. We thank the family for the gift of such a life.

Land was taken from the black majority by force. The state structure we inherited from apartheid is incapable of recognizing black demands as legitimate, that’s why it answers black grievances with bullets all the time. From Marikana to Daveyton.

The white man in plain clothes was whisked away into safety by the police after unleashing death and destruction. No arrests have been made. The transgressions of whites against blacks are already protected because blacks are already guilty of the heinous crime of blackness.

Politicians have already betrayed the landless. There will be no land expropriation without compensation. They are selling a land rhetoric to the land hungry. It’s a cruel game to expropriate the votes of blacks without compensation.

We have a duty to ensure that the brave ones among us, like Steve Kau, don’t die in vain. The white policeman who opened fire with live ammunition must pay. The government that proclaims its existence to be sanctioned by concern for the landless and poor, must pay. We are tired of dying without justice being served.

In a week’s time, Steve will be buried. Speeches will be made. Promises renewed. But the real tribute we can pay to this young warrior is to take back the land by any means necessary, anything less will be nothing but another betrayal.

We refuse to betray Steve Kau.

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