Controversial Gatvol Capetonian claims to be 'pro-brown, not anti-black'

Member of Gatvol Capetonian (Tammy Peterson, News24)
Member of Gatvol Capetonian (Tammy Peterson, News24)

Their "say it like it is" videos have gone viral and they have garnered thousands of followers on social media. From gangsterism to crime, from poverty to unemployment, Gatvol Capetonian has plenty to say. But the registered non-profit organisation, which describes itself as a pressure group, has also come under fire for being racist and divisive. News24's Tammy Petersen sat down with its representatives to get to the heart of what this self-styled "community pit bull" is all about.

A controversial movement that is garnering support on the Cape Flats and advocating for people to be "bused back to the Eastern Cape" is not "anti-black", but "pro-brown", its organisers say.

Gatvol Capetonian started in the lounge of chairperson Ebrahiem Davids' Portlands, Mitchells Plain, home in April. It is now a registered non-profit organisation, but describes itself as a pressure group.

"We are a community pit bull," media liaison Oscar Lyons says.

"Our sole purpose is to hold politicians accountable to their communities and the constituents they are supposed to serve."

The group appears to have become an online hit.

In two months, it has amassed 18 000 Facebook followers with the majority of their social media followers commenting in support of its message.

It has even gained the support of Steve Hofmeyr.

But others have called the movement racist and divisive.

"The issues it claims are impacting on mixed race people impact on all people of colour who are marginalised economically," one user pointed out.

"Instead of fighting against black people and calling for secession from South Africa, it would be helpful if the group recognised the common challenges and found solutions."

Another accused Gatvol Capetonian of "dividing our people".

"We as coloured people should stop thinking we are an island on our own. We are part of South Africa; we must realise and accept we are black stop encouraging this name 'coloured' (sic)."

But the group's spokesperson Fadiel Adams insists there is "not a racist bone" in their movement.

"Take a walk around Cape Town. Show me the trace of us [coloured people]. We have always been here. You see Sobukwe, Mandela, Kgosana, everybody. Where is Ashley Kriel and Pedro Page Boulevard? Krotoa Airport? They act as if we have never been here. They want to black out all of Cape Town."

He said it wasn't about "us and them, per se". Instead, Adams alleged government policies were threatening to "kill all of us". He claimed that the government wanted to "force us to speak Xhosa, but they declare war on Afrikaans, our indigenous language".

But that's not all.

'We lost a generation of youngsters'

Gatvol Capetonian says it wants to see an independent Western Cape – a country with its own flag, currency and laws.

"If you were not born [here], in our 'country', pre-1994, you need to pack your bags, sell off your assets and go home," Adams said simply.

"Look at the farmland we have. We can produce our own food. We have the ocean to our back and can do all the fishing we need. We produce our own petrol, our own electricity. We've got the tourism industry – we could turn this into the monarchy in Africa."

Money generated in the province can "instantly uplift the standard of living of every Capetonian", he argues.

Adams argued that since democracy, Cape Flats communities continued to grow "exponentially poorer".

"We lost a generation of youngsters to unemployment, gangsterism, drugs… We want it to stop. We are asking for fairness.

"Look at the employment line. See how many coloured people are employed here. Our kids are sitting on the corners with matric certificates, and other people [specifically from the Eastern Cape] are just coming in here and taking, grabbing. What are they saying to us?"

Despite their target being coloured people living on the Cape Flats, the movement welcomes people of all races, Lyons said.

"If you are gatvol, you can join us."

'I had a picture of Mandela on my door'

Adams has been especially vocal on social media, with videos in which he shares his views going viral on Facebook.

"I say it like it is," he shrugs. "I don't think I am popular. I think our people agree for the most part with what I say. It could have been any one of us saying it and the effect would have been the same.

"If anybody thinks that I am a racist: I had a picture of Mandela on the back of my door when I was growing up. I supported the UDF. I got moered by the boere in apartheid, man, for rioting at the corner of Concert Boulevard and Prince George Drive. I burned those robots. I helped to overturn a Casspir. We as children fought for this country, man.

"This is not what we were promised. That this government is happy with the genocide of our laaities out there and expect us to sit still for it? Yoh, they have another thing coming. If you don't know what the issues are on the Cape Flats, keep your bek (shut up)."

One of Gatvol Capetonian's newest members, Moulana Junaid Mcleod, believes that the movement "says what needs to be said".

"I see Gatvol as that organisation that will take coloured people from where they are now – in a situation where they are oppressed, marginalised, excluded – to something better.

'The only good politician is a dead politician'

"If this message can be carried throughout the Western Cape, then there is hope for the coloured community, for every oppressed section or sector in Cape Town."

The name Gatvol Capetonian started as a joke after Lyons said he was a "gatvol coloured".

"I told him, my broer (brother), think a little bigger. Gatvol Capetonian," Adams recalled.

Lyons had three T-shirts made, with the name emblazoned on the front.

The back reads: "The only good politician is a dead politician."

"It's the Cape Flats that keep politicians in power," Adams pointed out. "The DA needs to know when it loses the Western Cape, it's done. It's finished. It can deregister and move on. The ANC and DA look exactly the same. They play the blame game, but they are both out to f*ck us."

Making waves and lighting fires

In a perfect world, there would be no need for an organisation like theirs, Adams said.

"But there is, and that need is not going to go away. Look at Cape Town. Fifty percent of the voting base comes from here, from us. It used to be more, but look at the influx [of black people]. If you look at the numbers in Parliament, you have whites and blacks talking about us. We don't have a voice. This organisation exists solely so that we can have a voice."

Lyons said they have been contacted by "gatvol" people from across the country who want to open chapters of their own.

He joked people may soon see "Gatvol New Yorker" if the trend continued.

"If we were just a nothing and a nobody, a bunch of coloured guys talking crap, why would the DA be contacting us? Why would a DA activist from Gauteng message a bunch of Cape Flats coloured guys that have got no bearing on your life wanting to know about our political plans for 2019? It's because we make waves. Not just in Mitchells Plain, but as far as Limpopo.

"They can come out and they can put out fires, and we will light new ones."

Meanwhile, Forum of Cape Flats Civics chairperson has also hit out at the group, calling it "regressive and backward".

Its chairperson Lester September said, "We should look rather to what unites us ... and not unproven race classification."

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