‘Links to loot­ing’ scup­per Mon­day’s CBD march

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - JAN CRONJE

PLANS for an al­ter­na­tive march into the CBD on Mon­day were halted be­cause the group or­gan­is­ing it had links to the pro­test­ers who looted street ven­dors’ stalls last month, city au­thor­i­ties said.

The group, the Se­si­fik­ile Peo­ple’s Rights Move­ment, had planned to march on Mon­day.

But af­ter the city went to court to in­ter­dict a dif­fer­ent group from march­ing to the CBD yes­ter­day, it said it would not grant per­mis­sion for Mon­day’s march ei­ther.

Yes­ter­day’s planned march was or­gan­ised by the Cape Town In­for­mal Set­tle­ments group­ing, which also or­gan­ised the protest that turned vi­o­lent last month.

Al­though

the two

are dif­fer­ent or­gan­i­sa­tions, the city said Se­si­fik­ile had “strong links” to Cape Town In­for­mal Set­tle­ments leader Andile Lili.

Se­si­fik­ile had also been in­volved in “the vi­o­lent ac­tiv­ity” of the Oc­to­ber 30 march.

Lili’s co- leader, Loy­iso Nkohla, said yes­ter­day that af­ter their march was can­celled they had hoped to join Se­si­fik­ile’s march on Mon­day. But the city said yes­ter­day po­lice “(would) not be able to guar­an­tee the safety of ei­ther par­tic­i­pants or other cit­i­zens should the gath­er­ing pro­ceed”.

Po­lice in­tel­li­gence also con­firmed that Se­si­fik­ile is an af­fil­i­ate of the Cape Town In­for­mal Set­tle­ments group.

The city said the Se­si­fik­ile Peo­ple’s Rights Move­ment “did not ne­go­ti­ate in good faith” when ap­ply­ing for per­mis­sion to march.

Cape Town In­for­mal Set­tle­ments spokesman Sithem­bele Ma­joba said the city’s rea­son for pre­vent­ing Mon­day’s march was “ridicu­lous”, but that the group would only join a “le­gal march”. “Se­si­fik­ile was granted a per­mit hav­ing fol­lowed all the nec­es­sary mea­sures… you can’t just dis­miss a per­mit,” he said.

Cape Town In­for­mal Set­tle­ments or­gan­is­ers had said as many as 200 000 pro­test­ers would con­verge on the city cen­tre yes­ter­day, but the only ac­tiv­ity in the CBD was when Lili and Nkohla at­tended a church ser­vice at St Ge­orge’s Cathe­dral with Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu.

At a press con­fer­ence on the steps af­ter­wards, Tutu said the pair should be com­mended. “All of us were scared about what might hap­pen, but they lis­tened and I think we have to give them credit,” he said.

Nkohla, stand­ing later by co­in­ci­dence in front of one of the stalls that was looted last month and was trad­ing again yes­ter­day, said the fact that the march had been called off should be seen as a sign of good faith.

“It shows peo­ple we are pre­pared to en­gage,” he said.

Al­though yes­ter­day’s march was a no-show, large num­bers of po­lice were still present. Po­lice spokesman Colonel Tem­binkosi Ki­nana said no re­ports of in­ci­dents had been re­ceived.

Out­side the Western Cape pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture, a dozen of­fi­cers were still posted at lunchtime. Seven po­lice and metro po­lice ve­hi­cles were parked in the street, in­clud­ing an ar­moured Nyala.

Po­lice were also at the train sta­tion where pro­test­ers had been ex­pected to ar­rive.

At Haiku Asian Ta­pas restau­rant, on the cor­ner of Wale and Burg streets, man­ager Sabi Sab­har­wal said the threat of a strike had scared off lunchtime cus­tomers.

“There are very few peo­ple around, the op­po­site of a nor­mal Fri­day near Christ­mas. But what can you do?”

Green­mar­ket Square, usu­ally a hive of ac­tiv­ity at lunchtime, was mostly empty.

City me­dia man­ager Priya Reddy said traders had lost out: “They opted not to trade to­day for fear of be­ing looted.”

Dan­ger Banda, a trader from Malawi, said he had lost a day’s trade: “Yes we are down, cus­tomers were scared. Lots of traders didn’t even dis­play.”

Cape Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Ja­nine My­burgh said: “Un­doubt­edly there will be a detri­men­tal ef­fect on busi­ness, par­tic­u­larly the most vul­ner­a­ble of our com­mer­cial com­mu­nity, as most peo­ple were warned to avoid the CBD to­day,” she said.

jan.cronje@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: THOMAS HOLDER

GIVE THEM CREDIT: Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu, right, said Andile Lili, sec­ond from right, and Loy­iso Nkohla, left, should be com­mended for call­ing off yes­ter­day’s march to the city cen­tre. Tutu was speak­ing af­ter a ser­vice at St Ge­orge’s Cathe­dral.

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