Civic groups from Cape Town’s gang-ridden communities on the Cape Flats have called on parliament to rid their local police stations of corrupt cops and prioritise the protection of women against sexual violence.
Around 200 people marched to parliament alongside the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Wednesday, where they met with the chairperson of the portfolio committee on police Francois Beukman to make their demands.
The groups have organised themselves into the United Safety Front with those participating in the march mostly women. These included victims of crime and gangsterism.
“How are we as mothers supposed to heal when local government authorities and police don’t help us with our cases,” asked Mom’s Move for Justice chairperson Avril Andrews.
Local police stations had been corrupted and the victims of sexual abuse forgotten by the national government, other protestors charged.
“Living on the Cape Flats is liking being held hostage, and there’s no help,” said Mitchells Plain activist Shanice Appels.
“We are not scared of the number because we have the numbers as we stand here,” said Vrygrond resident Mymoena Scholtz.
34 year old Hanover Park resident Tasleem Galant was shot twice in the head in July, allegedly by a known gangster who lives just three streets away from him, his sister in law Zaitoen Kruger said.
But no-one has been arrested for Galant’s murder and because she lives in the gang’s turf, she routinely sees the suspected killer roaming around the neighbourhood.
“I feel disappointed and heartbroken. The police are supposed to keep us safe but they corrupt. So I’m here to try and find justice for Tasleem,” Kruger said.
Marching through Cape Town’s CBD, the demonstrators held placards declaring “Let Kids Be Kids”, “The bullet doesn’t ask for political affiliation” and “7% conviction rate,” referencing the rate of conviction for rape in South Africa.
“Department of women in the presidency, what the fuck are you doing there? Because you are doing nothing for the women of the Western Cape,” exclaimed Lavender Hill resident Lucinda Evans.
“Why is it when women come to report rape at the police station and they are drunk, they are sent back?” Evans asked.
The march was held following last week’s #ShutdownCapeTown protests against gangsterism poverty and unemployment. Police said the demonstrators had not applied for a permit and opened fire on residents blocking the main roads in Bonteheuwel and Ottery. Fourteen people were arrested.
But Cosatu’s Western Cape secretary Malvern De Bruyn said the federation was not allied to the groups who blockaded the roads and clashed with police last week.
Cosatu secured a permit two days after the violence and on Tuesday morning a large crowd of mostly women, victims of crime and residents of the Cape Flats marched to parliament and the Western Cape legislature.
“We didn’t support the blockages and these groups that we are supporting came to us after that. We’ve formed a task team which includes local residents and the ANC and we will continue these demonstrations,” De Bruyn said.
The march was supposed to consolidate the community groups that took part in last week’s protests. But leaders from the southern suburbs of Manenberg, Bonteheuwel and Bishop Lavis did not endorse it.
Despite the memorandum being read and delivered by a member of #ShutdownCapeTown, the residents who led protests last week have now sought to distance themselves from Tuesday’s march because they were apparently not asked to join it by Cosatu.