Sub-council scuffle

Protesters from the Total Shutdown Movement demonstrated in the public gallery of Sub-council 5. Clockwise, from front left, are, Henriette Abrahams, Moenierah Kippie, Daniel Jacobs, Amanda Davids and Victor Altensteadt.

The manhandling of protesters by law enforcement officials has come under the spotlight again as many criticised the way a Bonteheuwel activist was treated during a demonstration at the Sub-council 5 office.

A video clip has been circulating on social media, showing how Henriette Abrahams was being forced out of the building.

Ms Abrahams was among a group of Total Shutdown Movement supporters, disgruntled about the lack of service delivery, who gathered outside the Sub-council 5 building on Wednesday November 21.

The group gathered from 7am, and just before the sub-council meeting was scheduled to start (at 10am), they wanted to make their way to the public gallery.

However, they were blocked by law enforcement officers. When the protesters pointed out that they had the right as the public to be in the meeting, they were allowed in. Once in the public gallery, they started singing protest songs. The group demanded to meet with the sub-council officials for 15 minutes so that they could share their concerns.

Anthony Daniels, the sub-council manager, briefly addressed them and asked that they meet in the boardroom.

It was during this time, as the protesters made their way to the boardroom, that a scuffle ensued.

“They said they would meet with us in the boardroom, but it was never their intention to meet with us. That was their strategy to get us out of the public gallery and it was meant to lead us out of the building, and then all hell broke loose,” Ms Abrahams said.

Ward 50 councillor, Angus Mckenzie, said he believes the group did not want to have a meeting, but that their intention was to stop the Sub-council 5 meeting from going ahead.

“Half of them agreed to meet in the boardroom, and the other half did not want to. It was during this time that a scuffle happened. They were asked to leave the premises for three hours. Everyone has a right to lay charges if they feel they were manhandled, but they swore and spat at law enforcement officers when they were being removed. Any member of the public is welcome in the gallery, however, they sat in the chamber on councillors’ chairs. If they were seated in the gallery there would not have been a problem,” Mr Mckenzie said.

The protesters’ demands include the transfer of all the City of Cape Town’s rental stock, including flats, and that arrears be scrapped.

They also demanded that the City stops the installation of water management devices, as well as to reduce the tariffs for water and electricity.

The group also wanted clarity on the Bonteheuwel central business district upgrade, and demanded safe spaces. They are also against the upcoming infill housing project in the area, saying the community is already overcrowded.

However, the memorandum of their demands was never handed over.

Ms Abrahams said when sub-council chairperson, Courtney van Wyk, came out to collect it from them, they told them they wanted to hand it over to a City of Cape Town mayoral committee member.

“Some of our demands need attention from the City of Cape Town and on provincial level. The officials at the sub-council cannot give us straight answers and they themselves have to escalate it,” Ms Abrahams said.