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Cape Town - The police and five minstrel troupes had a tense stand-off in the Bo-Kaap over the weekend after their march through the area had continued beyond the agreed cut-off time of midnight.
The City of Cape Town instituted the cut-off after some residents complained of unruly behaviour and noise till the early hours during previous marches.
On Saturday night, five troupes headed to the Bo-Kaap after a “trophy night” at the Athlone and Vygieskraal stadiums. After midnight police asked them to disperse.
Yusuf Safudien, who handles the events for the Bo-Kaap Civic Association, said there was no altercation and that the troupes had dispersed peacefully when the police intervened at around 1am.
He said police officers had asked about logistics – whether the correct routes were followed before asking them to disperse.
The troupes were initially reluctant to go but members from the local civic association addressed them.
“On our instructions they stopped,” he said.
Safudien said that by implementing the cut-off time they would cater to both those residents who were in favour of the night marches and those who were not.
“We’re still trying to get the control (implementing of the cut off). In that way it eliminates the problem,” Safudien said.
Not all troupes are happy about the cut-off time.
Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Associations’ (CTMCA)
chairman Richard Stemmet said the event at the Athlone Stadium, where thousands of minstrels participated, went off smoothly. He said that sometimes events would finish at around 11pm and the troupes then headed into town.
Stemmet said they had been complaining to the city about the cut-off.
“It’s the same issues every year – but it’s a cultural event that happens once a year and we are a cultural organisation and it’s not fair.”
He said he had complained to the City of Cape Town that troupes were allowed to walk elsewhere with no problem but had to comply with a cut-off time in the city.
“It’s one of the oldest cultures and still we must fight to have a permit here,” he said.
Last week, two employees who were sub-contracted to do work for Bharooch Event Styling and Management complained that they were not paid on time, but the city’s mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing, Grant Pascoe, said one payment had already been made. The two other invoices “did not equate to the balance of the fees/funds due to Bharooch”. But he said the matter had been resolved and the accounts were reconciled. The correct invoices have been issued to the city.
Bharooch Event Styling and Management was initially meant to manage the entire event, but its role was scaled down to one of “facilitation” after some of the minstrel associations complained that they were being sidelined.
The DA and ANC had also been at loggerheads over the event, with the DA accusing the ANC of trying to score cheap political points after Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile told thousands of Capetonians and visitors at the Grand Parade that it was the ANC that “saved” this year’s minstrels’ event.