About 100 picketers stood together in solidarity outside St George’s Cathedral in Wale Street on Tuesday, ahead of what has been tipped as major protest action on Wednesday. According to those chanting “Free Palestine”, they hope the South African government strengthens its support for the beleagured nation. Despite a humid winter afternoon in the city centre, young and old held up the Palestinian flag and placards to bring awareness to the current events in Gaza.
The support from locals has grown on the eighth day of the offensive by Israel in Gaza. The death toll, almost reaching 200, is regarded as a direct violation of basic human rights. Israel’s military operation has sparked outrage, especially in the Cape Town Muslim community.
At the picket, some six members of the public along with Shaheed Mahomed from the Workers International Vanguard Party made their way to the local Woolworths to purchase goods made in the occupied territories of Palestine and filled about seven shopping carts. At the check-out point, after the goods were scanned for purchase, the group of protesters told the manager they would not purchase the goods and that they would now have to go through the process of putting those products back on the shelves.
According to Mahomed, this form of protesting was done to spread the awareness to both the management and staff of the outlet. But they further demanded the management remove those products from the store’s shelves in an attempt to boycott Israel.
“We brought everything at Woolworths to a standstill as people were shopping. We want to bring awareness to South Africans and both retail and shopping outlets about the products they are selling and the implications of their actions. We can not support a country that is guilty of violating the human rights of thousands of Palestinians,” Mahomed said.
Meanwhile, the latest attacks on Gaza has caught the attention of individuals in all spheres. Mahomed explained of the 220 000 members of the metal workers union currently on strike, many say they will be discussing putting down a demand on engineering companies to end all dealings with Israel.
“There is also a huge support in Durban where dock workers are hoping to collaborate with shipping companies in halting all shipments to and from Israel,” Mahomed said.
Ultimately, the call most uttered in recent days is that of the immediate expulsion of Israeli ambassador in South Africa. Furthermore, local civil societies and South Africans urge the government to strengthen its stance against Israel through sanctions. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)