When a group of about 3500 protesters ran amok in Cape Town CBD, causing tens of thousands of Rands worth of damage, news and social media sites were overrun with updates and outspoken opinions about the unlawful liberties taken by the protesters. Innocent street vendors and shop owners were the ones hit the hardest, with some reporting up to forty thousand Rands’ worth of damage to shop fronts and stolen stock. Street vendors, merely trying to eke out a living, were forced to abandon their stalls and seek refuge from the angry mob that resorted to looting and pillaging, while their brief was to participate in a service delivery protest.
And now the Cape Town Informal Settlements Organization – the same group responsible for the previous protest (only a few weeks ago), has warned that tomorrow (Friday, 29 November 2013) will see a protest with numbers estimated to be closer to 50 000; summoning residents of poorer areas and informal settlements as far out as Paarl, Stellenbosch and Strand to converge in the Cape Town CBD and commence the march at 10am. Their proposed plan is to all meet at the Grand Parade, and march to the legislature to present a memorandum to Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille.
City management has explicitly denied the group permission to march, citing possession of credible evidence to prove that a gathering of the proposed magnitude could result in serious and untold disruption to traffic (both vehicle and pedestrian), injury to innocent bystanders and vendors, and quite possibly unnecessary damage to property. The mere fact that Cape Town Informal Settlements Organization spokesperson, Sithembele Majoba has encouraged all shops and businesses to close, anticipating the huge crowds, offers cryptic clues that this demonstration could quickly spiral out of control, and with the crowds being fed by the mask of collective anonymity there is no telling what damage could be caused to vehicles parked in public spaces, shop fronts, shop owners and their clientele, as well as innocent bystanders.
Despite being denied permission to conduct the protest, the group has insisted that there will be no cancellation at all and that all legalities aside, they will march regardless. This sort of blatant disregard for the law has left the city little choice but to summon in additional police and security resources from as far out as Pretoria, in anticipation of the huge numbers expected. Businesses in the Cape Town CBD are encouraged to avoid the potential danger associated with this march at all costs, and rather remain closed for the duration. With the last protest action which was held, what should have been a peaceful memorandum handover ended in mayhem, with breakaway groups looting stalls and physically attacking traders. After the violence experienced during this protest, the city said that it intended to sue ANC councillor Loyiso Nkohla and former ANC councillor Andile Lili; the same individuals responsible for the now-infamous human waste incidents. They were alleged to have led the breakaway groups that turned violent.
Residents, business owners, employees and town frequenters are advised to practice extreme caution when negotiating the CBD, and to bear in mind that traffic delays and gridlocks could very well be expected. The protesters may well spill over into the other streets off Wale and Adderley Street, where the protest is expected to be held. Should you be in the area and wish to provide us with up-to-the-minute information, please do not hesitate to use our Contact Us page.