“Protesters who break the law WILL be arrested,” were the words of Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana, following the news that the City of Cape Town managed to obtain an urgent court interdict late on Thursday evening which prevents the city’s Informal Settlements organisation from holding their planned march today, Friday 29 November 2013.
City mayor Patricia de Lille said that the interdict was obtained at the eleventh hour as a last resort, and she was quoted as saying that she didn’t want to see a repetition of last month’s protest action, where participating members who claimed to be a part of a service delivery demonstration instead took to looting shops and vendors’ stalls, and causing a considerable amount of damage in the CBD. Concerns were further raised, when it was heard that Friday’s march organizers were encouraging informal settlement residents that there would be “free Christmas presents for the taking” during the proposed march, which could be taken as an invitation to plunder and loot local businesses and vendors in the CBD area.
One of the Informal Settlements organisation’s senior members, ANC councillor Loyiso Nkohla was quoted in media reports as saying that the only way the march would be stopped is if a court of law passed down an interdict which forbid the march. “I appeal to the organisers of the illegal protest to please respect the court interdict,” de Lille was quoted as saying. “Now that the court has spoken, I hope that Nkohla and his colleagues will no longer continue with their plans, as this would be deemed as a blatant disregard of the rule of law.”
While the city’s lawyers scrambled to have the courts order a halt to the protest action before it even had a chance to happen, the police and various other law enforcement agencies said that they were prepared for any marches or displays of public violence. “There will be a heavy police presence in the CBD, as well as in the proposed areas of congregation for the marchers,” said Colonel Kinana. “These deployments will comprise of members of the public order policing (CCID), Metro Police officers, Cape Town Traffic officers, Law Enforcement officials, as well as emergency officials,” he said. Police on horseback would also be on hand to monitor the situation. “Members of the railway police will also be on high alert, and deployed in and around train station precincts anticipated to be related to the march.” In addition to all of these measures put into place, Traffic Services would be working closely with SAPS Flying Squad response vehicles to monitor the city’s highways and byways, and air support would be on standby in case of emergencies.