Friday’s Protest March: City taking things seriously, but too quietly?

Tomorrow’s protest march (or “prohibited event” as the city are quietly calling it) in Cape Town looks set to go ahead and will almost certainly be bigger than last month’s paltry 3,500 turnout. But whether the organisers will manage to get their somewhat optimistic estimate of 200,000 remains to be seen. I fully expect the Metro Police to tell us that there were 10,000 in town while Loyiso Nkohla and his Ogobityholo BaseKapa chums claim 3 million or something.

Either way, it’s reasonable to expect widespread disruption and – sadly – probably high levels of violence as well. And while the city has applied for an interdict to prevent the marchers from marching. This strikes me (no pun intended) as being a bit of a waste of time, since permission to march has already been denied and the organisers don’t seem to give a toss. I find it unlikely that they’ll suddenly have a change of heart when there’s an interdict against them.

Comrades! Let us take back this city! Let us show the White Madam that she cannot… wait… what? She’s got an interdict? OK. Never mind. Back to work everybody!

The Province claims to have done all they can to meet the demands of the organisers, and says that there is therefore no need for this action on Friday:

The Province has done everything that could be expected to engage with the leaders of Ogobityholo BaseKapa from the start of their campaign and we are willing to continue engaging with them on their issues of concern when presented in good faith. It should therefore be apparent that there is no reason for them to march on Friday, as our supposed “lack of engagement” was the claimed reason for their march.

But while the City is publicly being very quiet about the march and their preparations for it, there’s no doubt that a lot of planning is going on behind the scenes. Today’s Cape Times reports that there’s an internal memo doing the rounds:

It states that intelligence has been gathered by various agencies which suggests that march organisers have been mobilising people from Khayelitsha, Dunoon, Wallacedene and Brown’s farm in Philippi. Residents from informal settlements in Stellenbosch and Paarl are also believed to be joining the march.

The memorandum states that “looting has been encouraged at the planning meetings that have been taking place in the informal settlements. Organisers have suggested that food and Christmas presents will be easily available in the CBD for the marchers.”

More chillingly is the advice for emergency services and hospitals to prepare for large numbers of casualties:

Staff were also notified that “mass casualty resources” have to be checked and ready for deployment.


While this softly, softly approach is presumably about not giving the marchers much publicity, it’s certainly not doing the concerned citizens of the City any good. Helen Zille’s twitter timeline is filled with questions about whether people should come in to work tomorrow and whether any preparations have been made:

is there a strong possibility of a strike 2row?Is it advisable not 2 go to work 2row- if one works in town?

I own a showroom in central CT and am concerned about the rumored protests Fri. Will there be a police / army presence? Tx Barry

And who can blame them when that (publicly available) Provincial report contains this sort of information?

The Premier has written to the Mayor relaying information received from the State Security Agency that the protest march on Friday is deliberately intended to be violent. The organisers are planning various disruptions that include enforcing a work stay-away, stopping taxis and buses from operating and staging a three day sit-in outside the Provincial Legislature. The danger of random attacks on taxis, buses and commuters is therefore very real.

The information is that the organisers want this protest march to be accompanied by looting and attacks on businesses and commuters, although they plan to deny that this is their intention so that they can eschew responsibility for any violence and disruption that occurs.

If you’re going to make those sort of statements public, you also need to publicly reassure people that you’re doing something to prevent it happening and to keep them safe. That hasn’t been evident from the Province or the City as yet, so it’s natural that people are going to fear the worst about tomorrow in Cape Town.

One week on

Just one week ago, I was singing the praises of the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Community Hospital in Durban. And that despite the fact I had to cross a good-natured but vocal picket line to get in:

Sadly, it seems that just one week on, the public sector workers strike has turned nasty, with almost unbelievable reports of working nurses being forced out of ICUs at gunpoint and mobs invading operating theatres.
And several hospitals – including IALCH – have been blockaded (also here).

I’m due to visit a another public hospital tomorrow – but I may be forced to postpone…

South Africa’s Xenophobic Attacks

We, more than many other nations, should know better. We should know better because we have just emerged from more than three centuries of the horror of settler colonialism and apartheid… This madness has to stop. There is simply no justification for attacking people simply because they are not South African nationals.

Editorial, City Press


But xenophobic violence continued today, especially in the townships around Johannesburg. The police (SAPS) who had previously warned of a growing undercurrent of xenophobic unrest have accused criminal elements of hijacking the issues which have caused these attacks and worsening the situation. And while the police responded to the trouble with rubber bullets and tear gas, they have regularly come under fire from live ammunition. 

Burning man 
Immigrant alight (BBC)

 Section 201 of South Africa’s Constitution allows for the army to be called in by the President to assist the SAPS: 

Only the President, as head of the national executive, may authorise the employment of the defence force ­… in co-operation with the police service; 

 I would suggest that the time for that decision has already passed. With every news bulletin, we are hearing of more problems, more casualties, more deaths. However, whether Mbeki will (for once?) act decisively in this situation remains to be seen.

 Now there is the distinct possibility that the situation will spread to other cities across SA, including Cape Town

About 30 Somali shopkeepers trading and living in Du Noon have received warning letters telling them to leave the area, fuelling fears that xenophobic attacks occurring in Johannesburg could spread to Cape Town.

It seems likely that this situation will certainly get worse before it gets better. In fact, listening to the news on the radio, it’s getting worse even as I write this. Once again, huge negative publicity for South Africa and huge issues for the 3-5 million (depending whose figures you believe) immigrants in this country at the moment. And what choice for the Zimbabwean immigrants particularly – starvation in their own country or the threat of violence in this new home.

I’m sorry. I don’t have any answers. Even deploying the army in these hotspots will only see the trouble move elsewhere and does nothing to cure the underlying issues which have led to this situation.
“Send them back where they came from” suggests to these people that violence is the answer. It surely isn’t.
And me? An immigrant here myself – “taking their jobs”.  I’m just glad that I am where I am and not facing what those less fortunate than me are facing right now.

More on this issue will surely follow over the next few days on here as the situation develops. Don’t miss out.