The City of Cape Town says it is determining the cost of damages to municipal property during the EFF protest in Brackenfell today, with the intent of recovering these through civil action.
Preliminary reports indicate a fire engine was torched, roads and traffic lights were damaged, and a field was set alight by EFF protesters. Car dealership windows were smashed at the corner of Paradys and Old Paarl Road, with private vehicles damaged due to stoning and several shops looted according to reports.
The City says it also notes the violation of national lockdown regulations, forceful attempts to violate the South African Police Services’ (SAPS) conditions placed on the number of protesters, and the violation of the EFF’s own commitment of non-violence to both the police and the Western Cape High Court.
This after Judge Siraj Desai refused to grant an urgent interdict against today’s protest in Brackenfell on the basis that there would be no violence.
‘I strongly condemn the violent actions and violation of agreed conditions with the SAPS and High Court that took place during the EFF protest in Brackenfell today. The EFF made it clear that they have no regard for the rule of law, and the City Manager has indicated to me that senior officials are assessing the cost of the damage to city infrastructure. Once a full assessment has been done, the City will be recovering these costs from the EFF. I want to assure the public that we will not tolerate lawlessness in this City and the EFF will be held accountable for the damage caused. Where private property has been damaged during today’s protest action, I want to encourage property owners to alert the City so that our legal team can assess the feasibility of private property owners joining the city’s case against the EFF,’ said Executive Mayor Alderman Dan Plato.
Mayor Plato said while he could not speak for the SAPS, today’s violation of protest conditions would need to be taken into account by police in future, and should form part of the record going forward.
Metro Police, Law Enforcement and Traffic officials joined the SAPS Public Order Policing effort in Brackenfell today.
‘I commend the efforts of the SAPS, Metro Police, Law Enforcement and Traffic officials, as well as the contributions made by the NHW and CPF community networks. Through these efforts, an extremely volatile situation was kept largely under control, protecting the public and limiting damage to municipal and private property,’ said Mayco Member for Safety and Security Alderman JP Smith.
The City respects the rule of law, including the right of citizens to assemble provided this is done peacefully and with respect to the rights of others.
Meanwhile, Premier Alan Winde has thanked the South African Police Services and law enforcement for their professional management of today’s protest in Brackenfell, by working to ensure that the conditions of the gathering were enforced and that the school, its learners and teachers were protected.
“I also want to thank the residents of Brackenfell for heeding the call of us and the SAPS to avoid the area and to let them do their job. This was the responsible thing to do.
I continue to call for calm and to ensure that there is no escalation of conflict.
Today, the EFF did not abide by their own agreement with the SAPS and the City in multiple respects, which is unacceptable. This, after the conditions were confirmed again just yesterday in a meeting with all role-players.
I am also concerned that the Cape Party, which had not applied to the City to gather, and whose members were clearly there for political ends, also arrived today. They were rightfully asked to leave. We do not need instigation and confrontation, which will only give the EFF the divisiveness that they are looking for.
The terms of this agreement with the EFF were critical for two reasons. Firstly, because this protest was outside of a school (for the third time) attended by learners who have a constitutional right to education, which was denied them today, as the overwhelming majority did not attend school because of the intimidatory tactics of the EFF. Secondly, because measures were in place to protect all people from violence and the spread of Covid-19.
As I said on Monday last week, violence, no matter who perpetrates it, must result in arrest and prosecution. We have to ensure that the rule of law is upheld equally. Indeed, violence and intimidation are never the answer.
I am also very concerned after viewing today’s footage that EFF members and leaders had absolute disregard for Covid-19 regulations. Most members attending the march did not wear masks and failed to keep a safe distance. The total number of EFF members in attendance, over 2000, also far exceeds the 500 members required for outside gatherings in terms of the regulations promulgated under the Disaster Management Act. This at the same time as the Cape Metro is starting to see a notable increase in Covid-19 cases. We expect investigations into this conduct in line with these regulations, as this protest could now be a major super-spreader event.
Let us not be in any doubt: the EFF’s objective today – as evidenced in their social media posts in the run up to today’s event – was to provoke a reaction which they believed would garner support for their cause. Their attempt failed miserably because residents saw it for what it was. They have not had the best interest of our learner’s at heart. If they had, they would have met with Minister Schäfer, as originally agreed to, and they would have awaited the outcome of the investigations by the education department, so all the facts were established. They did not.
What is not in doubt though is that the private function in question was just that, a private function. I want to be crystal clear that we would never, ever allow a racially exclusive event to be organised by one of our schools. It would not be tolerated under this administration. The investigation is nevertheless ongoing, and we ask for calm and responsible behaviour as the matter is handled.
There is indeed no doubt that we must all stand up to racism wherever it occurs. Discrimination based on race is abhorrent and is an assault on the values enshrined in the Constitution, which we cherish. We all need to work together to build a united South Africa, where the colour of your skin does not determine the way you are treated, or your prospects in life. This is essential for our children especially, who deserve the opportunity to succeed.
That is why it does concern to me that some learners of colour in our schools across the country do not feel welcome or heard. This can’t continue, because building our rainbow nation starts with all of us, including our children.
It is for this very reason that the Western Cape Education Department has already initiated a series of programmes with schools to address these concerns. And why schools, like Brackenfell High School, are taking these concerns seriously with their own initiatives. We are committed to following this through with the gravity it deserves.
In doing so, we must all reject the divisive politics of the extreme left and right, who believe that their political success rests on tearing our rainbow nation apart. Let’s be better than this. Let’s solve our problems responsibly, with compassion, consideration for others, and always in the best interests of our children – who deserve nothing less than our full support during this difficult time in our country and the world.”