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Cape Town - Cape Town’s toilet activists could find themselves facing even more criminal charges after the DA joined 30 other Capetonians in opening a public violence case following Thursday’s protests outside the Western Cape Legislature on Wale Street.
Thousands of protesters brought the Mother City to a standstill as they went on the rampage after a housing protest, looting shops and vendors’ stalls, smashing windows and setting garbage and even palm trees outside the legislature alight. The group turned rowdy and violent as they waited in vain for Western Cape Premier Helen Zille to address them, demanding proper housing, sanitation and services for the poor.
Leading the pack, former ANC councillor Andile Lili, 37, and Loyiso Nkohla, 32, have been branded as “tsotsis’’ and “hooligans” by upset Capetonians, but both remained unapologetic about their fight for better housing and services, saying critics had to open their eyes to the real suffering of the poor.
Police Captain FC Van Wyk confirmed that DA provincial leader Ivan Meyer, MEC for cultural affairs and sport, had laid a charge at Cape Town central police station.
“Police obtained a voluntary statement and Meyer will be a witness in the case. Thirty others have also laid public violence complaints with the police,” Van Wyk said.
Meyer said his department was obtaining photographs and video footage of the chaos on Wednesday.
He said Nkohla had been quoted in the media as encouraging people to loot the Cape Town CBD, while ANC provincial chairman Marius Fransman was lying when he suggested that the Economic Freedom Front and not the ANC had organised the march.
Meanwhile, Nkohla says he will sue the Daily Sun, which quoted his alleged remarks at a rally in Nyanga, for defamation.
But Nkohla, a suspended City of Cape Town councillor, is in trouble himself, both with the council and his own party.
The city is likely to use his involvement in Wednesday’s housing protest as aggravating evidence in its ongoing disciplinary case against him, according to a city source.
The ward councillor played hooky from Wednesday’s council meeting, sending a sick note to excuse himself from the meeting.
But as news of the protest and subsequent looting and violence reached the council chamber, Mayor Patricia de Lille said that Nkohla was seen inciting the crowd. She identified him from footage shown to her while she was still in the meeting.
Nkohla has been suspended from the ANC - charged with bringing the party into disrepute and disrespecting the party’s leadership for his involvement in the so-called poo protests.
But he was defiant on Thursday.
“The next march will be even bigger and better. We will continue to go to the premier’s office until she starts respecting our people and explains the housing crisis in the province.
“It is time the nation sees the real service delivery nightmare on the outskirts of the Cape Peninsula,” Nkohla told the Cape Argus.
And Nkohla, charged under the Civil Aviation Act for allegedly dumping faeces at the airport’s departures terminal on June 25, is unfazed.
“Anything bad that is happening in the city of Cape Town will always be Loyiso or Andile. We are not going to apologise and on November 29 we will bring thousands more to the city of Cape Town.”
Nkohla and Lili rejected accusations that their campaign is politically motivated and intended to make the province ungovernable in the run-up to next year’s elections.
They said they had campaigned against the city’s sanitation policy since 2009, first exposing the Khayelitsha open-air toilet scandal and then tackling bucket toilets.
Nkohla said before Zille claimed the action by thousands of people was “politicking”, she should answer why land was not being made available and why residents were not privileged to have the same sanitation facilities she had.
Meanwhile the ANC finds itself in a dilemma. The party as well as the ANC Youth League condemned the violence in Cape Town on Wednesday, but the fact that thousands of people from various informal settlements followed the two poo-war ringleaders to the Provincial Legislature indicates the party might be in some trouble if it expels the pair.
“They know what they are talking about. They live in the townships and if they are cut to size, the risk is that many might follow them elsewhere,” one source said.