The City of Cape Town and SAPS foiled protest action around Dunoon and Table View during Monday’s national shutdown.
The national shutdown, co-ordinated by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), is said to be a response to the country’s power outage crisis, high unemployment rates and a call for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s resignation.
In the days leading up to Monday’s events, the City of Cape Town was calling for its residents not to panic and carry on about their day. Cape Town mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis and Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, had been reassuring residents that the shutdown would not affect people’s lives and businesses.
Last week both Mr Hill-Lewis and Mr Smith posted on social media about a court interdict that was granted by the Western Cape High Court to prevent the EFF from “engaging in or trying to incite others to perform any act of violence, damage to property, any form of intimidation or threat, or the attempt to disrupt any school, business, transport provider, either before, during or after their intended shutdown protest”.
Mr Smith said the court ordered the EFF to pay the costs of the urgent interdict.
With regards to the protests themselves, Mr Smith told Tabletalk that on Sunday night, a small group of protesters had gathered in Parklands and Table View and tried to intimidate employees at petrol stations in the area.
“Private security along with SAPS responded. One EFF supporter was arrested. The other nine EFF supporters retreated into a security complex and hid,” he said.
Table View SAPS spokeswoman, Captain Adriana Chandler, confirmed the incident and said that a 22-year-old woman was arrested for public violence.
“The woman, who was part of the protest, was arrested around 2.30am and the docket is currently being investigated by Provincial SAPS. Currently, the situation in Table View is calm and nothing major has been reported. There are a lot of feet on the ground from various stakeholders.”
Over the course of Monday afternoon, a heavy police, law enforcement and security company presence was seen around Malibongwe Drive near Dunoon and parts of Parklands and Table View. According to Mr Smith, on a few occasions City Law Enforcement responded to burning tyres on Malibongwe Drive and on another occasion, it was burning rubbish.
There were mixed feelings among residents about what the shutdown was actually about and what it achieved. Milnerton resident, Heather Graham, said she was proud of SAPS and all those who responded to the protest.
“I must say, I feel really safe knowing that someone has our backs and that no one will come to our suburbs and intimidate us. It is not fair to hardworking business owners and normal residents who want to carry on with their lives. Today (Monday) is about relaxing and tomorrow is another holiday where we should relax after a frantic start to the year. We don’t need this extra stress of having to worry if we and our properties are safe. At least we didn’t have load shedding today – that’s one less thing to worry about,” she said.
Thandeka Dyasi, a Dunoon resident, said she was more concerned at how quickly SAPS and law enforcement respond to places when they are told of a protest.
“Who knew we had all these resources? They always guilt trip us into thinking that there just isn’t enough resources to respond to most crimes in the area but tell them the ANC or the EFF are having a peaceful protest, (then) they bring everyone. This is really concerning to me.”
Khanya Cawe, a resident of Parklands, said that the protests had merit because everyone is suffering from the ongoing power outages and high unemployment rates.
“We are all affected by these issues faced here in South Africa. When an organisation says we have had enough, let’s stand together, we should all be on that same boat. But what I noticed is that this protest turned into the City and the people versus the EFF and protesters. In some instances it turned into some kind of a race war, as always.
“It gives me shades of that Brackenfell debacle,” he said, referring to the November 2020 incident when the EFF had protest demonstrations at Brackenfell High School amid a heavy police and law enforcement presence after complaints of racism were levelled at the school when it emerged that a private matric party was held for white pupils only. The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said in a statement at the time that while it found that some of the school’s officials knew about the event, evidence before the SAHRC exculpates the school from the planning, funding, advertising or hosting of the event. The EFF rejected the SAHRC’s findings, saying the commission failed to investigate properly.
Meanwhile, the City also faced criticism over operations conducted by the Metro police’s Tactical Response Unit (TRU) during Monday’s shutdown.
Mr Smith posted videos of the TRU patrolling the streets of Nyanga on Monday night, stopping and searching residents in the process. According to Mr Smith, this was in response to information received that EFF supporters were gathering and heading out to protest. Some residents said this was the City targeting people for no reason.
Tabletalk contacted the EFF’s regional secretary and provincial chairman for comment but both had not responded by the time this issue went to print.
Mr Smith also had not responded to allegations of the City targeting people unfairly by the time of publishing.