‘Links to looting’ scupper Monday’s CBD march
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.
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.
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.