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Zackie Achmat survived five hijacking attempts in six months

Independent candidate and social justice leader Zackie Achmat has survived five attempted hijackings in six months while on the campaign trail, he said at his Cape Town apartment on Wednesday.


“People live in terror (in the townships),” said 62-year-old Achmat, who wants more support for neighbourhood watches, which help keep communities safe — among other priorities in his “Equality for All” campaign.


“After lunch yesterday (Tuesday) we were on our way to the Cyril Ramaphosa settlement in Philippi and were turning around to meet someone, when two guys ran at us with their guns out.”


The driver kept going and the gunmen shot at the car.


“We all ducked and a bullet lodged in the metal strip in the driver’s door,” said Achmat, who was in the passenger seat in the line of fire.


His other narrow escapes were on community visits to Delft, Langa, on the way to Eerste Rivier and Khayelitsha.


One of his friends, who lives in Khayelitsha, has suffered the killing of two brothers in their early 20s, he said.


Achmat has connected closely with women doing patrols for neighbourhood watches, families coping with disabilities and young people during his campaign.


“I want to fix the state so that it is working for the most vulnerable people in society,”

said the veteran activist, who gained international recognition as leader of the Treatment Action Campaign. All his life he has been instrumental in founding advocacy, civil society and coalition movements.


“I cannot fix everything ,” said Achmat, who is focusing on issues close to his heart, including the commuter rail system (Prasa); care for people with disabilities and mental healthcare conditions, and harm reduction around alcohol abuse; fixing the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) and getting renewable energy to rural communities that lack electricity.


This article was first published in Times Live on 29 May 2024, by Claire Keeton.

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