'Gatvol Capetonian' in Monday shutdown, but Dan Plato calls on police to shut it down

Gatvol Capetonian in a previous protest.
Gatvol Capetonian in a previous protest.
Jaco Marais
  • A group called the "Gatvol Capetonian" has planned a shutdown in Cape Town on Monday.
  • According to the group, communities from at least 15 different areas are expected to participate.
  • Cape Town mayor Dan Plato has called on law enforcement to quash the planned shutdown.

City of Cape Town mayor Dan Plato has called on law enforcement to quash a planned "shutdown" on Monday by the "Gatvol Capetonian" group.

 He said the protest intends to terrorise law-abiding residents.

The Gatvol Capetonian, which is a self-described pressure group, has said it will be shutting down the city in an attempt to highlight the plight of backyard dwellers.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the group said it shut Cape Town down in August 2019, and would be doing the same on Monday as nothing has been done to improve the lives of backyarders.

READ | City of Cape Town lays charge against shutdown organiser over R1.5m damage

"Over the past year, our situation has gotten worse, and we are nowhere near a solution. People are still being evicted and thrown to the streets during this time of natural disaster, with no concern for their health and safety," the statement read.

"We will keep shutting down until we are heard and until actual action is taken in alleviating the above issue."

WATCH | Cape Town cops get tough on tourism protesters

The statement further stated that communities from at least 15 areas are expected to participate, and major roads across the city would be closed between 05:00 and 11:00 on Monday.

Criminality

Plato has responded to the group's intentions of a shutdown by calling it planned criminality that must be stopped in its tracks.

"It cannot be that a so-called 'shutdown' is announced and promoted in advance by opportunistic political groupings, who plan to infringe on the rights of residents," Plato said in a statement.

"I call on the South African Police Service (SAPS) to prevent those intending to terrorise law-abiding residents [on Monday]. I have written to the Western Cape provincial commissioner, urging a coordinated law enforcement response to protect residents."

READ | A backyard dweller's plea: 'All I am asking for is for a house so that I can die in dignity'

Plato added that it was unacceptable and opportunistic to both announce and proceed to close off major routes, vandalise infrastructure and prevent residents from going about their daily business.

The City's safety and security mayoral committee member, JP Smith, said he respected the rights of citizens to protest on condition that those protests are non-violent, peaceful and respectful of the rights of others to access public spaces and public roads.

Smith added that protests must happen lawfully in terms of the Regulation of Gatherings Act, and must not violate the rights of the public.

Act

"The City has been compelled, along with the South African Police Service, to act against violent protesters over the last two weeks, and almost 30 arrests have been effected," Smith said.

"The constant need to reprioritise policing resources to attend to protests and land invasions come at a cost to vulnerable and poor communities who are hard hit by crime.

READ | Backyard dwellers slam Western Cape government over empty housing promises

"Redirecting policing resources to the intended protest actions will have the outcome of distracting police from dealing with problems with gang violence and the current state of land invasions, which may therefore lead to more unlawful occupation of land."

Smith called on members of the public to not engage in violent protests, obstruct access to public roads and not to engage in the vandalism or destruction of infrastructure.

"As this invariably affects the poorest and most vulnerable communities and destroys infrastructure for which they benefit or on which they depend.

"At worst, this causes the waste of public funds to repair and replace this infrastructure that could have been better used to the advantage of developing communities."

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