Cape Town - Thousands of people were streaming into central Cape Town before noon on Saturday ahead of a pro-Palestine march through the city's streets to Parliament.
Many sang and held up posters and banners as they streamed towards the main gathering point at Keizergracht, from where the march was scheduled to have started at 11am, but is yet to get underway.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Mandla Mandela was reportedly in the crowd.
Hundreds of people had already started assembling outside Parliament's main gate in Plein Street, where film crews were focusing on a line of women, all wearing the red, green, black and white colours of the Palestinian flag, standing behind a banner proclaiming “South African government must stop selling arms to Israel”.
Another held up a sign stating “Zuma suffer of (sic) historical amnesia”.
Two hundred metres down the road, a group of drummers added to the chants of “free Palestine” with some African rhythms.
“We're from Burundi, but we've come to add our voices,” their spokesman, who wore a T-shirt with the words “Africans understand colonialism” emblazoned across the front, told Sapa.
The march was called by the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P), which comprises more than 30 religious and civil society organisations, trade unions and political parties, including the Muslim Judicial Council, the Congress of SA Trade Unions, and the ANC Youth League.
In a statement earlier this week, the grouping said it was demanding “decisive action from the South African government against the Israeli attacks, killings, displacement and destruction of the Gaza Strip”.
It was also calling for an international inquiry into the conduct of Israeli armed forces in the Palestinian territory.
According to the gathering permit issued two days ago by the City of Cape Town, “the maximum amount of participants of 10 000 shall not be exceeded”, but the number of people jamming into the central business district on Saturday suggested this figure could well be exceeded.
The prescribed route the marchers are expected to take towards Parliament from Keizergracht will take them down Christiaan Barnard Sreet and across and back up Adderley Street, where they will turn left at the top and then up Plein street to the complex main gates.
Traffic on the outskirts of the city was reportedly gridlocked by noon on Saturday. - Sapa and IOL
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