Politics take centre stage at Clifton Parly inquiry
A Monday parliamentary meeting to investigate the December Clifton fourth beach saga descended into political point scoring session between the ANC and Democratic Alliance (DA) members of Parliament.
One DA MP objected to a City of Cape Town official — mayoral adviser Caroline Knott — being asked to leave by committee chairperson Mohlopi Mapulane.
Knott was ordered to leave for apparently making gestures while a complainant gave testimony to the committee.
Mapulane adjourned the meeting so that parliamentary security could be called after Knott refused to leave. She later left the committee of her own accord.
Another DA legislator, Ross Purdon, accused the ANC of playing politics, questioning why a parliamentary committee was called for an incident that has yet to be fully investigated by local authorities.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that this incident has been politicised. And this committee has a proud history of rising above party politics. Today’s meeting is deeply disappointed,” Purdon said.
The National Assembly’s environmental affairs committee called for the inquiry after members of the public complained they were asked to leave Clifton fourth beach by members of private security company Professional Protection Alternatives (PPA) on December 23 last year.
Among those asked to leave the beach were ANC Western Cape secretary Faiez Jacob and human rights activist Fatima Shabodien.
One of the complainants, the Women’s Legal Centre’s Seeham Semaai says while they refused to move from the beach, they believed their removal would benefit the residents of Clifton.
“It was not just about the eviction and who was evicted. But who ultimately the eviction benefits. Structural racism is a system in which public policies, institutional practices, and cultural representations and other work to perpetuate racial group inequalities and in this case enforces white privilege on the Atlantic Seaboard,” Semaai said.
PPA, the City of Cape Town, the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (Psira) and local residents groups were called to answer to legislators.
PPA told MPs they were hired to protect Clifton residents properties because SAPS had failed to do.
PPA Director Chris Diedericks said the company was appointed by “numerous residents of Clifton fourth beach and surrounding areas to provide security and protection”.
Diedericks says the company has been patrolling parts of the Atlantic seaboard for years, including neighbouring suburbs of Camps Bay and Llandudno, and now questions the motives behind the festive season furore.
Commenting on the day of the incident, Diedericks said PPA was requested by law enforcement to help assist with basic safety on the beach, coming to the defence of their security guard accused of shooing people off the beach.
“PPA never instructed any beachgoer that the beach is closed at 8pm. At no stage did he inform them to vacate the beach or that the beach closed. He did inform them that the beach was closed before by law enforcement due to these criminal activities that placed the lives of the citizens at risk,” he added.
He also denies any allegations of racism because the security guard involved is coloured.
“Why is this racialised and politicised because of one specific incident?” he asked the committee.
PSIRA told MPs three PPA security guards have been suspended for allegations of assault, restraining people without authorisation, and verbally abusing beachgoers.
These include separate incidents involving Camps Bay informal traders who alleged they were roughed up by PPA security guards.