'We are not going anywhere’: Artists stay put after court interdicts NAC sit-in

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Artists occupy the National Arts Council in Newtown. Artists have occupied the office for over a month. (Thami AkaMbongo/ Facebook)
Artists occupy the National Arts Council in Newtown. Artists have occupied the office for over a month. (Thami AkaMbongo/ Facebook)
  • Since 3 March 2021, artists have been staging a sit-in at the National Arts Council offices in Johannesburg.
  • In response the NAC chose to request an interdict on the occupation from the High Court.
  • Although the High Court ruled in favour of the NAC, the artists have chosen to stay put. 


Since 3 March 2021, artists have been staging a sit-in at the NAC offices in Johannesburg. This after they reached out to the council asking them for details of what went wrong with the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme. Artists began asking for more information after the council suspended its CEO Rosemary Mangope and CFO Clifton Changfoot. Through this suspension, artists learned how the total that the NAC promised to give artists and institutions for relief projects was more than the R300 million that the President's Employment Stimulus Programme had allocated them. With the council being over budget, Mangope and Changfoot are being investigated regarding the management of the funds. 

During the first week of their occupation the artists told Arts24 how: “The only thing that is going to get us out of here is information.” More than a month later, their demands are yet to be met. So the sit-in continues. 

In response the NAC decided to take the legal route by choosing to request an interdict on the occupation from the High Court. On Thursday 8 April 2021, a month into the occupation, the occupants met the NAC through a virtual call to discuss an amicable way forward. 

During this meeting the council declined to put the court proceedings on hold. This is according to a video clip shared on the Im4theArts Facebook Group that artists across the country have been using to engage with each other as they protest alleged national mismanagement of funds. 

“The court proceedings happened today after we spoke to them to seek counsel last night. The interdict was granted but we are not leaving the building,” occupying artist Sibongile Mngoma told Arts24.

In an official document seen by Arts24, the High Court ruled in favour of the NAC stating that pending the finalisation and implementation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme, the occupants should, “... immediately upon service of this order... exit and vacate the premise and offices”.

Following the interdict, Mngoma told Arts24 how she and the other artists are still there: “If they choose to use force they will find us here.”

When asked if the artists were aware of what the interdict was based on, Mngoma replied: “They say we have vandalised the building but have no proof of such.”

Although no one had been arrested or harassed and there was no police presence while Mngoma spoke to Arts24, she said the occupants are expecting it. 

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