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Organisers of ‘unlawful’ back-marches in Bo-Kaap to be held accountable: City

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The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security says that the violence and chaos which accompanied Monday night’s minstrel back-marches in Bo-Kaap will not go unpunished. Chaos erupted on the streets of Bo-Kaap on Monday night as the Kensington All-stars minstrel troupe finished their parade. It is believed that a brawl broke out between troupe members just outside of the Biesmiellah restaurant in Wale Street but the cause of the incident has not been confirmed.

There are various rumours surrounding what triggered the incident, with some suggesting the brawl was related to the recent killing of the alleged former Hard Livings gang boss, Rashied Staggie. Staggie was shot and killed last week Friday in what is assumed to be a gang-hit.  According to some by-standers, shots were supposedly fired in the area on Monday, causing the large gathering and crowds to flee – however several sources have disputed this. The ensuing chaos as spectators fled resulted in injuries to some.

“There will now be criminal cases opened and also charges in terms of the City’s events bylaw, with a court appearance required,” said Mayco member for Safety and Security, JP Smith.

Minstrel troupes involved in the back-march will also face financial consequences as a result of their participation, according to Smith.

“[The] groups involved will not be eligible for City events funding because we would not be able to transact with them if they are in breach of any of our bylaws.”

However, there has been harsh criticism from the troupes and some community members that the City is well aware of these back-marches during this time of the year and that they should have organised security accordingly. Smith has insisted that even if the City is aware of certain trends, organisers of large gatherings and events are still responsible for filing applications and obtaining the necessary permissions from the City prior to the event.

He explained that although “the City has no problem with minstrels marches” the back-marches “are problematic because they happen without proper consultation, planning and coordination.”

“In this particular case, it looks like the event got out of hand… a violent incident occurred, several stabbings took place and people were running for cover and screaming for their lives. That’s certainly not something we want to associate with events and with the minstrels,” said Smith.

“By the time we became aware of this unlawful event, we didn’t have resources scheduled for it and had to withdraw resources from elsewhere – which is what we did.”

However, Smith added that although they redistributed resources in an effort to manage the situation in Bo-Kaap, the amount of resources the City was able to gather was insufficient to be effective.

Smith has warned individuals responsible for organising these gatherings as well as those facilitating them that they can be held responsible for any harm which may occur at these events and that the enablers within the community “are a part of the problem”.

VOC


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