Camps Bay beach filming: City of Cape Town withdraws court case after police back off

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Police Bheki Cele and City of Cape Town's JP Smith clashed over a film shoot at the Camps Bay beach.
Police Bheki Cele and City of Cape Town's JP Smith clashed over a film shoot at the Camps Bay beach.
Lulekwa Mbadamane
  • Police Minister Bheki Cele has agreed not to interfere with film shoots on Cape Town beaches.
  • The City of Cape Town subsequently withdrew its application asking the court for an interdict against Cele.
  • The parties reached an out of court settlement.

The City of Cape Town has withdrawn a court application to interdict Police Minister Bheki Cele and the police from prohibiting filming on beaches after the parties reached an out of court settlement.

The police agreed not to interfere with film shoots where the City has issued a permit.

City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said: "[This is an] Important victory for federalism and the rights of local government when it is subjected to arbitrary and unlawful interference by national government office bearers. Film industry, our doors are open for business."

On Wednesday, Cele and a phalanx of armed police officers descended on beaches in Cape Town, including the popular Camps Bay beach. There, Cele encountered a production crew filming an advertisement for a Russian non-alcoholic beverage called Riley's Garage, produced by multinational brewer Carlsberg.

Permit

Cele instructed them to stop filming, despite Smith's saying that the production company – Red Petal Productions – had the required permit and that filming an advertisement is not prohibited by the new regulations for beaches, which President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday evening.

"However, the Minister persisted in his view that the filming may not continue and gave instruction that filming must be stopped," reads the affidavit of Anton Smith, the coordinating officer of the City's film permit office, on which the City's application is founded.

The production company had to pack up and call it a day.

FULL SPEECH | Ramaphosa announces closure of beaches, alcohol restrictions

After further discussions with the police, which included the City's film permit office, it was agreed that Red Petal Productions could proceed the following day, with SAPS' Lieutenant Colonel Ndume in attendance to keep an eye on proceedings.

On Thursday morning, the filming resumed.

After Ndume returned from a coffee run, he told the production crew that "he received a phone call from national" that informed him the filming is not allowed to continue, according to Smith's affidavit.

And so, on Thursday afternoon the City launched a court application.

They asked the Western Cape High Court to interdict Cele, the Western Cape police commissioner, and the Camps Bay police from interfering with any film crew with a valid permit, and specifically to allow Red Petal to film their advertisement.

Orders

The City also asked for declaratory orders that the City is allowed to issue film permits and that such permits are not in contravention of the lockdown regulations.

On Friday morning, Cele was in Kempton Park, where he told eNCA: "I'm told they're going to court, that's what they should do. But these regulations are very clear. Regulations are you close at 22:00, at 23:00 you are home. Don't drink on the beach. There are beaches open, but you can't organise any extra activities on the beach. They go there, they put [up] the stage, they tell us about every other thing, so we had to stop that."

However, before the case could be heard by Judge Elizabeth Baartman on Friday, the State Attorney representing Cele approached the City's legal counsel with the following settlement proposal:

1. The Minister of Police confirms that the City of Cape Town is not precluded from issuing permits in terms of the Filming By-Law promulgated on 24 June 2005, subject to section 2(1) of the By-Law.  

2. The Minister of Police confirms that M and M Images CC trading as Red Petal Productions, and any other film production company issued with a valid permit by the City of Cape Town, can continue with their film shoot activities in terms of the permit issued to them by the City of Cape Town, without fear of unlawful interference by any member of the South African Police.

3. The City withdraws its application and each party pay its own cost.

The City then withdrew its application.

According to a statement, Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato welcomed this outcome and is grateful, "... that justice is being upheld".

"I have written to President Ramaphosa requesting his response on the unlawful conduct of Minister Cele. The matter has also been referred to Parliament’s Ethics Committee as Minister Cele's behaviour was highly problematic and must be addressed.

According to the same statement, Smith said the City reiterates that all film sets and other production workspaces within the metro are bound by strict Covid-19 protocols, with which Red Petal has complied.  

"I am grateful that we were able to resolve this matter so quickly and ensure that the film industry can get back to business without delay. The City currently has seven other film productions permitted to shoot on our beaches..." said Smith.

"It is now vital to ensure that this industry, which has suffered immense loses due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, be allowed to work towards recovery during its busiest time of the year without any impediments."

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