Anti-racism march during Hermanus whale festival refused, but applicants waiting on court

Land Party Logo
Land Party Logo

Hermanus police are waiting for the outcome of a court application for the go-ahead to hold an anti-racism march on the opening day of the town's annual whale festival on Friday

The application was lodged by the Land Party.

Cluster commander Brigadier Donovan Heilbron said those who had planned to march were waiting at a hall in Zwelihle to hear if the Overstrand municipality's refusal to grant permission for the march would be overturned.

"Everything is still normal. The crowd is subdued, with about 100 people now," said Heilbron.

He said an agreement was reached at a "triangular" meeting between the municipality, the party's representatives and the police; that the only way the march could go ahead was via a successful court application to get the municipality's refusal overturned.

The Land Party had planned to march on the opening day of the world-famous festival, which marks the return of the Southern Right Whales from Antarctica.

It features whale watching, art displays, various entertainment activities and an "eco-marine" theme.

The aim of the march is to raise awareness about racism.

In a Facebook post calling on people to join the march, the party said it would be a peaceful event.

"All citizens who have had enough of the racism that permeates the town are welcome to join," the invitation stated.

"The conflict and division caused by racism and segregation has escalated to the point where people's lives are at risk, nevermind the peaceful and prosperous future of the region."

The party's leader, Gcobani Ndzongana, was not immediately available to comment, but in a video message he said police had been asked for assistance, and added that they did not want any drunk people who would cause trouble at the march.

"This is the only opportunity that we have to make sure that our voice is heard..."

He claimed the festival did not benefit people of all race backgrounds in Hermanus.

"We want a festival that will accommodate everyone," he said.

The march was supposed to have taken place between 10:00 and 16:00.

 

The town has been rocked in recent months by spates of protests and marches to court to support people who have been arrested.

Ndzongana was among scores of people arrested for charges that included public violence. He is out on bail.

The main focus of earlier protests was over a large tract of land called Schulphoek, earmarked for housing for backyarders Zwelihle. 

The municipality said the proposed gathering for Friday of around 500 participants would not be allowed and that they could go to court to have this decision overturned. 

"The above mentioned matter was discussed at the triangular consultative meeting held at the South African Police Service in Hermanus on Wednesday, 25 September 2019," the municipality's statement said.

In terms of section 5(2), together with sections 4(4)(b) and 5(1) of the Regulation of Gatherings, Act 205 of 1993 (the Act) the reasons for prohibiting the gathering are as follows:

- The proposed gathering will result in serious disruption of vehicular and/or pedestrian traffic;

- The risks of injuries to participants in the gathering or other persons;

- Extensive damage to property is posed as conflict is a high risk when issues such as racism is the topic;

- The South African Police Service and the traffic officers in question will not be able to contain the proposed gathering/march as they do not have sufficient resources due to several events scheduled in the greater Hermanus.

They were told to go to a court to have the prohibition set aside or set another date for a gathering to create awareness about racism. 

Mid-afternoon on Friday, Heilbron said no action needed to be taken against the people who had planned to march, and they were all waiting to hear the outcome of the court application.

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