Cape Town - A group of pro-Palestine supporters were held for questioning on Monday by the Hawks Special Investigations Unit over alleged “security concerns”.
The five protesters were arrested on Sunday afternoon after forming a convoy of vehicles to demonstrate against pro-Israel supporters who had gathered at The Piazza on Hatfield Street.
They were held overnight, and were set to appear at Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday. But instead they were taken to the Hawks’ offices in Bellville, said the police unit’s spokesman Paul Ramaloko.
“They are being questioned over a security concern.”
He said the Hawks usually got involved in instances that involved “crimes against the state”, such as the destruction of state property.
“Once we are done questioning them, we will make a decision on whether to charge them or not,” he added. He did not disclose the details of these potential charges, but said they would appear at Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Tuesday morning if a formal charge was laid.
Police spokesman Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said the five were arrested close to Hatfield Street - where the pro-Israel supporters had gathered - on charges of inciting violence and disobeying a police officer who told them to turn round.
Others were later arrested when they proceeded in a motorcade towards Buitenkant Street.
The arrests have sparked outrage among the pro-Palestine supporters involved in Sunday’s demonstration. According to People Against Gangsterism and Drugs’ national co-ordinator, Abdus-Salam Ebrahim, the only “crime” protesters committed was “waving a flag”.
“This is not on, these are trumped-up charges,” he said.
He was one of many who had gathered outside the court on Monday to support those awaiting questioning.
The organisation’s spokesman, Osman Sahid, said the demonstration had been peaceful throughout.
He, among others, accused the authorities of conspiring against them.
The arrests followed marches on Saturday, where pro-Palestine marchers protested against Israel for the death of civilians in Gaza.