Riot fears shut shops

Traders close down af­ter march ru­mour

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - KOWTHAR SOLOMONS and JA­NIS KIN­N­EAR

FEAR gripped Cape Town’s city cen­tre yes­ter­day as ru­mours spread that pro­test­ers who ri­oted in the Mother City on Wed­nes­day were re­turn­ing to town.

City au­thor­i­ties mean­while slammed the po­lice, who made only two ar­rests dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s loot­ing and may­hem.

Al­though po­lice said last night that more ar­rests were im­mi­nent, it emerged that the two men widely be­lieved to have led the Wed­nes­day protest – for­mer ANC coun­cil­lor Andile Lili and coun­cil­lor Loy­iso Nkohla – were still free.

Yes­ter­day, af­ter hear­ing another march was on its way, city ven­dors and shop-own­ers, still shaken by the havoc wreaked on Wed­nes­day, be­gan quickly pack­ing up their stalls and clos­ing their busi­nesses. Metro po­lice were on high alert.

By mid-af­ter­noon there were no stalls open in St Ge­orge’s Mall and the area was strangely quiet.

Po­lice spokesman Cap­tain Fred­er­ick van Wyk said mem­bers of the Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion, Health and Al­lied Work­ers Union (Ne­hawu) were sup­posed to protest in lower Plein Street be­tween noon and 1.15pm. But Luthando Nogcin­isa, Ne­hawu pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary, said he knew noth­ing about a protest.

JP Smith, mayoral com­mit­tee mem­ber for safety and se­cu­rity, even­tu­ally con­firmed the re­ports of a protest were just ru­mours.

“We heard about a protest and im­me­di­ately checked cam­era footage from the bus ter­mi­nus, taxi rank and train sta­tion. We found noth­ing but still re­quested po­lice standby as a safety pre­cau­tion,” he ex­plained.

An an­gry Smith said who­ever started the ru­mour was tak­ing full ad­van­tage of the panic caused by Wed­nes­day’s ri­ot­ing.

About 3 500 peo­ple gath­ered out­side the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture on Wed­nes­day, but a group broke away, and looted stalls. Some of the ven­dors who were looted had still not re­turned to the CBD yes­ter­day.

The sight of po­lice and metro po­lice posted along Ad­der­ley Street yes­ter­day only fu­elled fears.

Ab­dieya Wil­liams, who has been sell­ing pies and other snacks in Ad­der­ley Street for the past 17 years, said she was shocked when po­lice told her another band of pro­test­ers were on their way yes­ter­day.

“The po­lice and metro po­lice were parked ev­ery few me­tres in the streets which made us even more scared. And af­ter Wed­nes­day we just wanted to get out of town be­fore any­thing hap­pened,” she said.

Smith yes­ter­day slammed the po­lice, charg­ing a lack of ac­tion af­ter only two un­named pro­test­ers were ar­rested. Fur­ther de­tails about those ar­rested could not be as­cer­tained last night, in spite of re­quests to the po­lice.

Smith said po­lice should al­ready have handed their in­ves­ti­ga­tion to the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity to de­ter­mine whether all pro­test­ers in­volved in il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity could be brought to book.

“There was a myr­iad of ev­i­dence of the pub­lic vi­o­lence, CCTV footage and co­pi­ous amounts of photographs ex­posed by the me­dia. It’s not rocket sci­ence to prove who did it, ar­rest and pros­e­cute them,” he said.

Last night Van Wyk said more ar­rests were im­mi­nent. Po­lice were still study­ing cam­era footage.

Lili and Nkohla con­firmed last night they were not the two men who ap­peared in court yes­ter­day.

Ear­lier this week po­lice spokesman Lieu­tenant Colonel An­dre Traut de­fended the po­lice’s op­er­a­tion, say­ing: “We have good rea­son to be­lieve our tac­tics on Wed­nes­day en­sured that the sit­u­a­tion was kept un­der con­trol, and pre­vented fur­ther chaos.”

Smith also called for the ur­gent

prose­cu­tion of Lili and Nkohla, say­ing “peo­ple like Lili and Nkohla know they en­joy a cer­tain amount of pro­tec­tion, which is why they openly threaten the pre­mier”.

The pair still faces pend­ing charges in con­nec­tion with their al­leged role in the toi­let protests.

He said rec­om­men­da­tions had been sent to the city’s le­gal ad­vis­ers to en­sure charges were brought against pro­test­ers in their in­di­vid­ual ca­pac­i­ties, the or­gan­is­ers of the march and the In­for­mal Set­tle­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, for vi­o­lat­ing the Reg­u­la­tions of Gath­er­ings Act.

The City of Cape Town’s ini­tial es­ti­mate of the dam­age was R6 mil­lion.

Smith cited a num­ber of trans­gres­sions by the pro­test­ers.

But last night Nkohla re­ferred to Smith as a “lit­tle white boy who makes big state­ments to be pop­u­lar”, and said he could not take him se­ri­ously.

He de­nied be­ing present when the loot­ing be­gan, and blamed the chaos on the pro­vin­cial pre­mier and DA leader He­len Zille.

“If Zille had come out to an­swer the calls of the peo­ple then the loot­ing would never have hap­pened,” said Nkohla.

“They are try­ing to sue us to take away at­ten­tion from the real is­sues. If a dog or cat pooped on Zille’s doorstep she would blame Andile and Loy­iso. We will al­ways be blamed,” he charged.

Lili could not be reached for com­ment last night, but has been quoted as say­ing he has plans to lead a three-day mass protest of 250 000 peo­ple start­ing on Novem­ber 29.

“No one is go­ing to come in or out of Cape Town. We will make a mess,” he was quoted as say­ing.

PIC­TURE: JA­SON BOUD

FEAR­FUL: So­ma­lian in­for­mal traders pack up their stand in St Ge­orge’s Mall yes­ter­day af­ter hear­ing that pro­test­ers were mak­ing their way to the CBD.

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