Five pro-Palestinian demonstrators were held overnight at the Cape Town central police station after they were arrested for allegedly staging an illegal protest on Sunday afternoon. The five people were pulled over by police near Gardens after they had left a picket at the Sea Point Pavillion, which drew a large a crowd of pro-Palestinian supporters. Addressing journalists outside the police station on Sunday night, Abe Khan, the attorney representing the five said they have not been formally charged.
Police are investigating a charge under the illegal gatherings act. VOC News was told that the protestors had a legal permit to picket in Sea Point but may have exceeded the time duration of the gathering. There are also allegations that the demonstrators were arrested when they participated in a motorcade in close vicinity of a pro Zionist rally in Gardens. Another source told reporters the group had picketed outside KFC in Gardens, when they were approached by police.
A video posted on social media showed a verbal altercation between a young female protestor and a police officer, who ordered the crowd to disperse. In the video, the picketers are heard chanting “Death to Israel!” When they refused to move, they were arrested.
According to Khan, a charge of incitement of violence was dropped and the demonstrators would be charged under the illegal gatherings act. Four people were initially arrested at the scene, and later a 19 year old was also taken in, when he enquired about the supporters at the police station. The five people are expected to appear in court on Monday morning.
Outside the police station on Sunday night, there was small yet tense crowd of supporters, who gathered to protest the arrests. Amongst them were the Pagad leadership, members of the Economic Freedom Fighters and relatives of those arrested.
Pagad leader Abdus-Salaam Ebrahim told journalists they were outraged by the arrests, saying it was a reminder of the riot police during apartheid. He said they would mobilize the masses to “put pressure on the system”.
“We are asking the public to come out in their numbers and show their support outside court at 7.30am tomorrow (Monday),” he said.
On social media, calls were issued for the public to support a picket at court.
The National Coalition for Palestine said it would provide legal support, but could not endorse the call for a protest at court until the five were formally charged. The case is being investigated by the Hawks. Its believed the suspects will be profiled before being formally charged. VOC