Arrests made in Cape Town shutdown protests

About 300 people are preparing to march from Bonteheuwel to the Bishop Lavis police station to demand the release of protesters arrested during the Cape Town shutdown demonstrations on Tuesday morning.

Four people were arrested when police — in an effort to disperse residents blocking roads leading to the main highways — fired rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades in Bonteheuwel.

Among them was campaign leader in the community, Henrietta Abrahams, who was carried away by police during the chaos.

In Ottery, eight people were arrested for blocking a roadway.

Similar protests took place in Bishop Lavis, Manenberg, Hanover Park, Nyanga, Gugulethu and Mitchells Plain, where residents held pickets against poverty, unemployment and crime at intersections.

“We refused to ask for permits because the Constitution gives the right to a peaceful protest,” Abdul Matthews of the Bishop Lavis Action Community explained.

“But depending on the numbers we’ll go from picket mode to shutdown mode. That’s when we close the roads,” he said.

Matthews said the shutdown representatives would meet at Freedom Square in Hanover Park this afternoon, where they planned to hear from lawyers attempting to secure the release of the arrested protestors.

“The shutdown protests are a call to declare the gangsterism in the Western Cape a disaster. And we are saying the only way to stop crime is to now make the resources available for decent jobs and decent housing,” he added.

In Hanover Park, more than a hundred residents blocked the diverted traffic from the main road with burning tyres and wood. They held up placards calling for the arrest of gangsters and visible policing.

“If this is what it takes to get the government to do something about the gangs and the drugs then it’s the only way. Our community is rotten,” said a Hanover Park resident who wished to remain anonymous.

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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