City of Cape Town halts illegal march

Community representatives held a meeting in Site C in Khayelitsha to decide whether to continue with the march. (Supplied)

Community representatives held a meeting in Site C in Khayelitsha to decide whether to continue with the march. (Supplied)

An illegal march on the city of Cape Town on Friday was called off on Thursday night by its organisers after the City of Cape Town was granted an urgent interdict to prevent the protest from taking place. 

The spokesperson for the Cape Town Informal Settlements Organisation, Sthembele Majava, said community representatives held a meeting in Site C in Khayelitsha to decide whether to continue with the march.

"We weren't worried there could be violence, and we weren't worried about the City of Cape Town or the police," said Majava. "We just have to respect the judicial system."

No further plans have been made for another march as yet, he said.

On Thursday afternoon, Majava was buoyant and said the march would take place. "We will be marching to premier Helen Zille's office to hand her a memorandum telling her we want land, whether we have a permit or not" he said. 

The court developments put a stop to the march, which was expected to cause havoc in the city.

Before cancelling the march, Majava said that he would like to ask all businesses in the city to close their doors to ensure there was no looting, as had happened during the previous march by the organisation in October. 

Fear of violence
For weeks workers in the city have been talking about the march, and some people informed the Mail & Guardian they will not be coming to work for fear of violence. 

Majava told the M&G poverty was forcing people to live in appalling conditions in informal settlements which were positioned far outside of the city, and this was the reason behind the march.
The organisation had its eye on pockets of public recreational land in the city's southern suburbs for residential use, he said.

"The Mowbray Golf Course is under the control of the City of Cape Town. And the province has a lot of land," Majava. "We don't have land and they must provide it for us."

Depending on who you spoke to the number of people expected at the march in Cape Town varied from a couple of thousand to 100 000, and even as many 250 000, according to Majava's predictions.

"We cannot control everyone during the march, and we want it to be peaceful" he said. "We are trying to arrange some marshals, but it would be better if people took precautions and closed their shops and stalls."

During the October march through the city centre by the Cape Town Informal Settlements Organisation, people were forced to hide from breakaway groups that rampaged and looted.

'Not politically motivated'
Majava insisted the organisation was not linked to any political party, and the march had not been politically motivated. 

It was, he insisted, being organised to expose the sheer scale of the desperation out on the Cape Flats, and in other areas where informal settlements had sprung up. 

While Majava said it was understood that the national government would also have to help with housing, he said the first step was to secure land closer to the city.

The City of Cape Town had turned down the application for the march, as it claimed to have consulted with the police and the march convener and it believed the march could result in disruption of traffic, injuries, and possible damage to property.

The lawyer for the Cape Town Informal Settlements Organisation, Barnabas Xulu, said court rules prevented an urgent application to the high court in Cape Town on Thursday for a review of the decision to ban the march.

Glynnis Underhill

Glynnis Underhill

Glynnis Underhill has been in journalism for more years than she cares to remember. She loves a good story as much now as she did when she first started. The only difference is today she hopes she is giving something back to the country. Read more from Glynnis Underhill

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