No to rape, murder and abuse: 10 detained after day-long protests in windy Cape Town

2019-09-04 21:44
Police maintained a visible presence in Cape Town's CBD amid an anti-femicide protest on Wednesday. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Police maintained a visible presence in Cape Town's CBD amid an anti-femicide protest on Wednesday. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Western Cape police have confirmed 10 students were arrested on Wednesday after a day of protests calling for action to be taken against gender-based violence. 

They faced charges of public violence and would appear in court once they have been formally charged, said police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut.

Water cannons were used to disperse protesters gathered near a hotel, which is opposite the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). 

"I agree with them, but I must also keep everybody safe"

The centre is hosting a three-day World Economic Forum event, and hundreds of protesters had gathered chanting and singing in the vicinity on Wednesday. They were demanding that President Cyril Ramaphosa come out and talk to them, and that a state of emergency be declared over the violence.  

Most police officers stared straight ahead, but some told the protesters they too have family members who were victims of murder and rape.

A law enforcement officer told News24: "I am one foot in and one foot out. I agree with them, but I must also keep everybody safe."

Protesters peeled off to FW de Klerk Boulevard toward a freeway for a planned sit-in to draw the president's attention.

In spite of the stun grenades, they jogged past the police, who had tried to block the road, and sat down at an intersection with Chris Barnard Avenue, where the freeway off-ramp ends. 

Protesters sang and if anyone banged on cars that were brought to a halt, they were stopped by their peers and the motorists were let through. Many hooted and gave them the thumbs up.

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However,  SA Human Rights commissioner Chris Nissen told News24 a group outside the Cullinan Hotel opposite the CTICC was arrested for what he understood to be a traffic-related violation. 

People inside the van banged their hands on its side, while a combination of SA Police Service and City of Cape Town law enforcement officers maintained a heavy presence. 

Traffic was backed up, but an officer guided people leaving the CTICC through the intersection. 

Nissen said he would go to the Cape Town police station, where the 10 students are understood to have been taken, to see if their release could be secured. 

"Let's just say that it's horrible what happened in the last few years, but particularly in the last few months and last few days, that women can be murdered, can be raped, can be abused." 

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Nissen said it was understandable that people came out in force for the protests, and understood that there would be another gathering at Parliament on Thursday at 10:00.

However, a group of protesters who had been moving in the area of the massive intersection that leads to Camps Bay, the Waterfront, and the freeway, was soaked by a water cannon.

Nissen felt the police had exercised great restraint in clearing the roads and the protesters were non-violent.

"I think the time has come that we really take this issue seriously. And not just another protest... 

"Women need to walk not having to look behind their shoulder." 

Nissen acknowledged the authorities had the right to protect roads, but hoped the protest was "not something you have to be locked up for". 

Read more on:    cticc  |  saps  |  sahrc  |  femicide  |  protests

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