A rare sunny day during the middle of winter opened the blue sky as thousands of pro-Palestine supporters gathered in Cape Town on Saturday to attend one of the largest marches to take place in the mother city since the end of apartheid. A number of representatives from all organizations under the banner of the National Coalition for Palestine, addressed the crowd on the many injustices against the Palestinian people and echoed the importance of South Africa’s support and efforts to end the Israeli aggression.
While thousands of people from all walks of life donned the Palestinian national colours and chanted words of condemnation to the Israeli regime, former president Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela attended the action and accepted the petition from the NC4P. Upon accepting the petition, Mandla said, “South Africa was built on the foundations of the liberation struggle. We believes the words of Tata regarding the freedom of Palestine and the responsibility of South Africa in its achievement.”
In a rousing speech, the ANCYL’s Shaka Sisulu, the grandson of apartheid struggle icon Walter Sisulu, reminded South African leaders of how the world fought for the liberation of the country during apartheid.
“Remember when they called Mandela, Kathrada and Sisulu terrorists, when they took up arms…”
“Remember how the world fought for us; now let us fight for Palestine.”
Sisulu added that there comes a time when every oppressed people will have to make a choice “to submit or fight”.
“If our leaders remembered what they fought for, why do they forget Palestine.” His address received praise and recognition from the protesters.
The petition, handed over by Buti Manamela from the Young Communist League, called for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk.
The Palestinian Ambassador, Abdel Hafiz Nofal extended his gratitude and thanks to the people of South Africa who continue to show their support.
“The Palestinian people have expressed their gratitude for the people of South Africa for their support. This march can bring shame to so many Arab countries who have forgotten Palestine.”
Meanwhile, a number of other representatives addressed the South African leaders and their role in the conflict. Cosatu provincial secretary general, Tony Ehrenreich said national government has a responsibility toward the plight of the Palestinians and should expel the Israeli Ambassador while recalling the South African Ambassador to Israel.
“There has been too much bloodshed. A number of pro-Israel supporters have come forward in recent days. In South Africa there is a right to expression but not a right to oppression,” Ehrenreich explained.
The demonstrators also heard from a members from various faiths. Representing the Jewish community was Judy Favish, Marthi Momberg from Kairos South Africa and Maulana Sulaiman Ravat from the Jamiatul Ulema.
BDS SA’s Kwara Kekana said Cosatu was one of the first to endorse the Palestinian cause. She called on South African consumers to keep boycotting Woolworths and other companies on the BDS list.
Earlier in the day, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu gave his blessing to the march with a colourful and humourous speech to the crowd. He echoed the sentiments of protesters, calling on Israel to end its occupation of Palestine. However, while the protesters made their way through the streets of Cape Town, they passed the local Woolworths and pasted posters on the walls, calling on the franchise to stop selling Israeli goods.
All representatives under the banner of NC4P stood united in the call for peace in Palestine and requested that South Africans continue its boycott and push for divesting and sanctions in Israel. There is one common goal – the liberation of Palestine. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)