The determined calls from pressure group G@tvol Capetonian for a “total shutdown” of all major arterial roads and highways leading into and out of the Central Business District (CBD) of Cape Town today, has resulted in widespread protests throughout the city. Protestors say they have had enough of the marginalisation of coloured people in the province. The demonstrators demanded coloured people have their “right to return” to the lands they were evicted from as a result of Apartheid spatial planning.
“The purpose of today’s shutdown is to highlight the fact that we have had enough of the Apartheid spatial planning that exists in the city of Cape Town. We are not animals,” said spokesperson for G@tvol Capetonian, Fadiel Adams.
“We are saying to the City of Cape Town (CoCT) that we have had enough of the overlooking of so-called coloured people. We want our right to return home. We are from Diep River, Constantia, Bo-Kaap, District Six and Rondebosch. Those are our lands and people need to go home – we were evicted from that land.”
Adams warned the provincial leadership of the Western Cape that the shutdown experienced today is merely a taste of what is to come.
“This is just the opening punch,” he said.
“We are going to take this thing all across the province. The racists and Zionists who run this province need to know that the rules are about to change.”
Thirteen areas took part in the shutdown with protests reported in Beacon Valley, Kensington, Lavender Hill, Woodlands, Tafelsig, Parkwood, Bo-Kaap, Elsies River, Egoli informal settlement, Eastridge, Ottery, Mamre, Ocean View, Factreton and Delft.
VOC journalist, Shakirah Thebus reported that over 70 residents in Parkwood joined the shutdown and protested on the M5 leading into the city. Things intensified when a female protester in Parkwood was violently grabbed by her neck by a white male police officer. The woman told VOC News the officer pulled out his firearm and pointed it towards her father. She said this kind of behaviour was even more reprehensible in a month which is supposedly dedicated to women.
In a similar instance of manhandling by the police, another woman claims that a police officer swore and shouted at her to get off the main road. She was told to remove her face-covering while he exposed his gun to the protesters as a form of intimidation.
South African Human Rights Commission’s Chris Nissen addressed protestors and announced that a summit would be held in response to the concerns raised. Oscar Samuels from G@tvol Capetonian shared a call that government should address apartheid-spatial planning and create socially cohesive communities.
“Commissioner tell the President, we are coming to Constantia, we are coming to Hout Bay. We are coming to the shadows of Table Mountain. I’m about to build an RDP house next to that expensive house of that white man.”
Samuels said that the protests in Parkwood was a huge success as no one was severely hurt or arrested and they achieved the goals set out. However, in the gang-ridden area, some rival gang members had gotten into verbal altercations with fellow protesters and G@tvol members. Samuels said it was a sad moment of disunity shown by protesters and in instances like this, they would encourage the SAPS to intervene as it might be related to criminal activity. But Samuels said the matter was taken care of through discussion and mutual understanding and reminding those members who tried to cause further disruptions, of the need to stand as one.
Commissioner Nissen spoke to protesters and said that although this form of protest action was good, a change could best be achieved through constructive dialogue. He informed them that he had communicated with the relevant stakeholders and will be working towards arranging a summit in the next coming week which will address the concerns of the backyard dwellers.
Before protesters went their separate way, Samuels addressed a large number of children present who were still in their pyjamas, thanking them for coming out and taking part in the protests. He assured them that what they were fighting for, was essentially for them.
“When a roof leaks in an informal dwelling, it is the child who is asked to empty the overflowing bucket of water outside.”
After protesters disbanded, G@tvol Capetonian members made their way to Parliament to hand over a memorandum of demands.