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Why are we profiled, asks activist

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One of five pro-Palestinian demonstrators arrested on Sunday says they were profiled and questioned by police and the Hawks without being given any indication to the reasoning behind their arrest. Abdul Gani Sahib, one of the five arrested on Sunday says they were innocently holding up flags and signs nearby pro-Israel supporters gathered in Cape Town’s Hatfield Street when they were ordered by police to disperse. The activists were freed on Monday after appearing in Cape Town Magistrate’s Court upon a state prosecutor dismissing their case.

“At first we were in Sea Point demonstrating, waving our flags and nothing else; the police asked us to remove ourselves from Sea Point, so we left. On our way we decided we would get out and wave our flags in Gardens near where the Zionist Federation were having a demonstration of their own, but we were blocked and told we couldn’t go through,” he explains.

“As we left we saw a commotion ahead and as we arrived at it I heard a police officer saying everyone has two minutes to disperse, after which an order was given to take people into custody. The police had cordoned off the area, and we were spectators, it was me, the others and just other normal people.”

Sahib says it was then that police decided to apprehend him and the others who appeared alongside him in court yesterday. They were then taken to Cape Town Police Station, where they were held and after waiting a few hours were told they were being held on charges of illegal gathering and conspiracy to commit crime.

“For almost three hours we sat, not knowing what was going on; then the arresting officers came, it was my first time being arrested so I didn’t know what the procedure was. They placed us in a … cell where they came to explaining what our rights are, and then only explained what the charges against us were.”

But Sahib says the strangest part of the ordeal was the involvement of the Hawks. Sahib, Ali Mohamed; husband and wife Marwaan and Waseemah Stemmet; and 19 year old Zainulabdien van der Schyff were then “between nine and ten o’ clock” taken to the Hawks’ offices in Bellville.

“We were just told we’re being taken to Bellville for profiling; with no idea what the profiling is about. When we got there they took our pictures and fingerprints, but we weren’t questioned,” Sahib said.

He says at Bellville senior officers attempted to gain his permission to search his home for any evidence that could aid their investigation.

“But I told them I have nothing to hide; they told me if I ask that they need a warrant to search my house I’m going to be in jail for another three or four days.”

Sahib says they were then taken back to Cape Town Police Station, and Monday morning released from Cape Town Magistrates Court on account of there being no supporting evidence. VOC (Andriques Che Petersen)


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