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Global ‘Swim with Gaza’ event a success in the Mother City

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By Aneeqa du Plessis

Despite the biting cold, a sizeable crowd showed up at Strandfontein Pavilion in Cape Town as part of the global international ‘Swim with Gaza’ campaign yesterday. People across the globe took part in the humanitarian initiative in support of the plight against the Palestinian people in the besieged Gaza Strip. The small region has been under Israeli blockade since 2007. The campaign was held to highlight the only free space for fun in the enclave is the ocean.

Speaking to VOC News at the event, Swim with Gaza Co-ordinator in Cape Town Shireen Hartley explained why it was important to bring the initiative to the Mother City.

“This was our pilot program and we did out best to put together this event in four months. It is not political nor religious, but it is a humanitarian event and the idea sprang to mind when I saw a video of a these children from Gaza running into the sea and I thought it would be a good idea to latch onto the initiative because these children have nothing to look forward to except the Mediterranean Sea,” described Hartley.

Local swimming coach, Anwar Rinquest who put together the water-safety programme at the event said swimming is a dexterity that needs to be adopted by each person.

“Swimming is a life skill. When you teach a child how to swim you’re essentially saving a life. So, once you can swim you can enjoy and body of water as it is a skill that sticks with you for the rest of your life. However, the programme that we’re hosting here today is in solidarity with the people of Palestine. I’ve been told that they’re (Palestinians) are only allowed to enjoy the sea on certain days and that simply isn’t just. We need to stand together and show our support to our oppressed brothers and sisters,” explained Rinquest.

Furthermore, swimming instructor and lifeguard, Zubaida Southgate said her love for swimming was instilled by her late father.

“It is challenging as a Muslim woman to maintain my Islamic identity while being a lifeguard but I have been inspired by my late father to own my space as a Muslim female and not be apologetic about my religion. It is a gift from God and I will respect it,” added Southgate.


Ferial Croeser, 60, reminded South Africans of their past and what it felt like to live through apartheid.

“I have come out today because I am very passionate about the cause to free Palestine. Our compassion lies with the people of Gaza who have never been able to have a sense of normalcy in their lives,” explained Croeser.

Shahieda Davids, 62, expressed her disdain at the current situation in the besieged enclave.

“The Zionists are oppressing our people and we need the youth to support these rallies because we won’t be around forever and we need to keep the fighting spirit ignited for the families of Palestine,” said an impassioned Davids.

In attendance were the Law Enforcement (LE) Water wing, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and Life Saving South Africa among others.

Furthermore, Advocate Shameemah Dollie Salie encouraged attendees to visit Palestine to get a tangible feel for what it is like live as an oppressed person on a daily basis.

Photos: VOCfm

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