Five pro-Palestine activists were released from police custody on Monday, a day after being arrested during a motorcade in Buitenkant Street. The five, including four men and one female, were allegedly arrested for being part of an illegal gathering. However, state prosecutors threw out the case, stating that the suspects were in fact not in contravention of the law. The activsts, Abdul Gani Sahib, husband and wife Marwaan and Waseemah Stemmet, Ali Mohamed and 19 year old Zainulabdien van der Schyff looked tired but relieved upon their release.
Outside the Cape Town Magistrates court, before the release of the activists, about 30 supporters gathered to show their solidarity. Holding placards, the group called for the release of the five arrested and further said that if demanding the end of the Israeli aggression in Palestine will result in their arrest, then they will gladly accept that fate but “will not be silenced”.
Shaheed Mahomed from the Action Forum for Palestine said that the arrest of the activists was a direct attempt by Zionist lobby groups to silence the masses in their call for a free Palestine.
“We have come out to defend the gains of 1994. What happened yesterday was an attempt by imperialists and Zionists to stow away what transpired here at the March on the 9th of August 2014. People from all walks of life stood together, in solidarity with Palestine,” Mahomed said.
According to insiders, the activists’ were arrested after leaving a picket in the Sea Point area on Sunday, however, some individuals conducted a motorcade. Relatives of the arrested say they said suspects were pulled from their cars and arrested.
“We just want our sister and the others to be released. They just want the liberation of Palestine and to bring awareness to others. My sister has never been arrested before,” a relative of the arrested female said.
At the same time of the motorcade on Sunday, some members of the Cape Town Jewish community showed their support for Israel at the Jewish Museum. The rally was organised by the Zionist Federation Cape council.
While the five arrested were held overnight for an investigation by the Hawks, leader of People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD), Abdus Salaam Ebrahim condemned the arrests and said it was a direct violation of the right’s of protesters who were practising their right to freedom of expression. “This type of treatment is the same as that during the apartheid era in South Africa,” Ebrahim said. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)