Slice of life: They would die for Bo-Kaap

"When the crane was trying to enter the area, they went to lie down on the ground preventing it from coming in." (David Harrison/M&G)

"When the crane was trying to enter the area, they went to lie down on the ground preventing it from coming in." (David Harrison/M&G)

When we got there on that morning of the protest [Tuesday] here in Bo-Kaap, what was also really encouraging was to see some of the elderly gentlemen come out and protest. You know, two of them put their bodies on the line. When the crane was trying to enter the area, they went to lie down on the ground preventing it from coming in.

READ MORE: Protesting Bo-Kaap residents claim small victory as crane leaves, charges dropped

Both were really determined not to let that crane come in.
So the crane, in fact, left. They succeeded, but we knew that they were coming back and when they did, they came back with riot police and, you know, stun grenades and all that stuff. So obviously they outnumbered us, but that was when we stood our ground in a peaceful way.

You know, when those two men put their bodies on the ground, the one said: “If I have to die today, I will die.” And this is the absolute truth I’m telling you now. He made it publicly known, saying: “I’m prepared to sacrifice my life today for the sake of my community. What legacy do I leave for my children and my grandchildren?”

He was prepared to fight to the end. It was so heartening hearing that coming from him.

I can’t even explain to you the emotions that went through me. It was really so encouraging to see that people are prepared, you know, to sacrifice their lives for this community. That people are prepared to stand up for what they believe is right, which is the protection of their living heritage. — Noor Osman, speaking to Carl Collison about the ongoing resistance by residents of the historic neighbourhood in Cape Town to a property developer erecting a 12-storey block of flats

Carl Collison

Carl Collison

Carl Collison is the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian. He has contributed to a range of local and international publications, covering social justice issues as well as art and is committed to defending and advancing the human rights of the LGBTI community in Southern Africa. Read more from Carl Collison

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