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Minstrel board up in arms over venue

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Despite an agreement with local government, the Cape Minstrel fraternity is again plagued by political wrangling, with the Cape District Minstrel Board accusing the City of Cape Town of “deliberately jeopardising” the annual minstrels festival. For the fourth year running, the CDMB applied for a permit to secure the Florida Park sports ground in Ravensmead, where thousands of locals would gather to take part in the minstrel’s festival.

According to the board’s Naim Hendricks, on the eleventh-hour, the City has withdrawn the application for the venue and offered two alternative venues; Bellville South Sports-ground or the Avonhood Sports field in Elsies River.

“We applied for this field in February of this year already. In the first week of December, we were informed that the event can no longer take place there. We have already spent thousands on marketing and in addition to that, our troops are still awaiting funds to organise transport. Paramedics and our sound providers still need to be paid but we are currently sitting with no money from the City of Cape Town,” Hendricks said.

The festival is expected to take place in two weeks and still nothing has been confirmed. The troops taking part in the event come from largely disadvantaged communities and require the funds for transportation costs in order to take part in the sought after event of the year.

“The venue in Elsies River is in the middle of a gang infested area and the Bellville venue is in the industrial area. How are our supporters and troops going to travel? What does the City think of us?” Hendricks stated.

In their hour of need, the organisation have turned to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who have offered to assist them in their attempts to keep the Florida-Park sports-ground open for the festival. The EFF’s Bernard Joseph said the party is currently in possession of documentation indicating alleged fraud and corruption pertaining to the distribution of funds from social grants agency SASSA and the National Lottery Board.

“To change a venue at such a late stage is a clear indication that the decision was made to undermine the festival and the culture of the so-called people of colour in this province. For years now, I have observed the constant challenges many in Cape Town face regarding the planning around the minstrel festival,” Joseph said.

The group plan on hosting the carnival at the Florida-Park sports-ground, regardless of whether they receive a permit from the City of Cape Town. Bernard added that the EFF does not necessarily agree with this decision but the party will be handing over the legal documentation to their legal team for further investigations into this matter.

Attempts to reach City of Cape Town officials for comment were unsuccessful. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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