Cape Town - A small band of ANC Youth League members spent their 67 minutes for Mandela Day protesting outside the South African Zionist Federation, calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and an end to the violence in Palestine.
Braam Hanekom, a member of the League’s national task team, led a protest of about 30 people outside the federation building yesterday.
The group called for a stop to Israeli attacks on Palestine, and for the expulsion of Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk.
A larger protest was scheduled to take place, but permission was denied by the City of Cape Town. The group spent 50 minutes outside the federation building before they complied with a police order to leave.
Hanekom said they were satisfied with how they chose to mark Mandela Day, addressing a cause that was close to the heart of the former president.
“Tata Madiba himself said that we are not free until the people of Palestine are free. On this day we are happy to celebrate his legacy, but also to show that we will not allow Israel and its supporters to silence or manipulate us. The ANC has made its stance clear, and that it supports an end to violence in Palestine.”
The group also called for economic sanctions against Israel.
“We are not marching against the people of Israel, but its government. More than 200 people have been killed and 5 000 homes destroyed. What the government is doing is oppressing people in the same way the people of South Africa were oppressed under apartheid. And the Israeli government claiming they are the victims is like saying white people were the victims of apartheid,” said Hanekom.
“The Israelis are oppressing the Palestinians in the same fashion as Hitler oppressed the Jews. We understand that Israel has a right to defend itself, but they are attacking and killing innocent civilians with bombs.”
The protest was originally cancelled after the city denied permission, but the League sent a second request after Israel deployed ground troops into Gaza on Thursday night.
On Wednesday, thousands of Capetonians marched from Keizersgracht to Parliament to hand over a memorandum of demands, which included the expulsion of Lenk, a full military embargo imposed on Israel, all trade ties with Israel to be cut, and the permanent closure of the Israeli embassy.
The Palestinian ambassador to South Africa, Abdel Hafiz Nofal, addressed the crowds.