We accomplished a 'miracle' - #BlackMonday organisers

2017-11-06 09:27

Cape Town - Following a week of debate where the #BlackMonday movement was described as racist and even a backlash by some of South Africa's white minority, the organisers maintain that the gathering was nothing short of a miracle. 

An estimated 10 000 people attended the "Genoeg is Genoeg" (Enough is Enough) prayer meeting in Klamputs on Monday, October 30, in what was arguably the country's largest anti-farm murder gathering.

But the event itself took only four days to organise, 21-year-old Talita Basson told News24 on Friday.

"They told me it's impossible; police said what I was attempting to do was impossible, but I didn't give up hope."

Seated below the black beams of a church converted into a sunlight coffee shop in Paarl, Basson and farmer Daniel Briers spoke proudly of the coincidences that led to the event's success. 

"God's hand is undeniable in all of this," Briers, 44, said. 

Not only was the event's venue, sound and stage sponsored for the organisers without them even asking, but the City of Cape Town also granted event approval within three days – something unheard of in a normally stringent protocol environment.

Basson, a third-year Stellenbosch University education student, started a Facebook-event for the prayer meeting the Wednesday after the horrific murder of Klamputs farmer Joubert Conradie on October 24.

She said she felt compelled to do organise it after she seeing farmers pray outside Conradie's farm while driving back to Paarl from Stellenbosch. 

READ: Leave your apartheid flags at home, say anti-farm murder protest organisers

"I knew I wanted to do something; I needed to do something," Basson said. 

She applied for an events permit through the Stellenbosch Municipality traffic officers on the Thursday afternoon where she was told that everything is already approved. 

By the Friday afternoon, however, the gathering hung in the balance as a provincial police official told her it was "completely illegal". 

"I got the phone call ten minutes before a test I was going to write and simply told Daniel to sort it out. I told him that I can't worry about it now."

Briers, who met Basson for the very first time that Friday morning, quickly completed a City of Cape Town municipal document and - in what the duo describes as a another miracle – the city called a special event meeting that Sunday.

After a four hour meeting where they battled over the route the convoy was going to take to Cape Town, the City finally gave the event approval that afternoon at 15:00. 

Briers and Basson only expected around 1 500 people at the gathering, but were overwhelmed by the response of people who drove from all over the Western Cape to attend.

"There were no incidents. Over 10 000 people, but no accident, no injuries, no nothing – that itself is a miracle," a gleeful Daniel said.

READ: #BlackMonday: 'This is about love'

While Talita and Daniel credit Genoeg is Genoeg for a "change in direction" of the country, the event sparked widespread outrage on social media. 

Both the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) condemned the country-wide anti-farm murder gatherings as racist, with EFF leader Julius Malema promising to physical oppose future gatherings. 

Even the Democratic Alliance (DA), which at first supported the movement, somewhat distanced itself after pictures emerged of #BlackMonday participants wearing the old apartheid flag. 

Briers, however, believed that the outrage was manufactured by a select few who wished to "divide and rule" the country. 

"Someone has to do a sum somewhere: There were millions of people who wore black on Monday in solidarity, in unity of what we stand for… Take the one person's [apartheid] flag and divide it up by the millions, then that one flag is unnoticeable," Briers said. 

"In the same way when someone climbs onto a podium and says: 'Kill a boer; kill a farmer' - that's one guy out of a million - why do we care what he says?"

In the same breath, Briers distanced himself of three people who were arrested in Gauteng for blocking a national road and the disruption the matric exams the convoys in Gauteng caused.

"Chaos will never drive out chaos; we cannot condone illegal action," he said. 

Asked why Genoeg is Genoeg was mainly a white gathering, Briers said the spontaneity of the event made it difficult to attract other race groups in the country. 

"I am sure that thousands of other people supported us from all race groups, but because of transport or work they were unable to make it."

And while Briers said he has sympathy for the hurt and anger the apartheid flag represents, he warned that the current South African flag could someday possibly be viewed the same.

"We have a responsibility to make sure that the current flag we have, that many years in the future some people will not look back and say I hate that flag because under that flag I was killed or my brother was killed or my sister was raped," Briers said. 

"We must understand that the blood that fell under this flag already is a concern."

He said there are no concrete plans for the future of Genoeg is Genoeg, but only that the "the Lord is showing" them something.

Speaking to one of the five people who greeted him during the hour-long conversation with News24, Briers urged the person to act following Monday's gathering.

"Every person needs to take five things he can plough, five things in his own life he can change – where he says that 'Enough is enough' – and then he needs to take five things in his environment and then five things in this country," Briers said. 

"I believe the seeds are being sown in this country for change, we just need to prepare the ground to ensure that the seeds are able to take root."

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