Cape Town - The ANC in the Western Cape has asked Sea Point police for a progress report on all investigations into what they have described as “a cabal”, which they claim is promoting racism, sexism, violence and anti-poor attitudes in the area, and threatening a group of women activists helping the homeless in the area.
During a meeting with station commander Lieutenant Colonel Helena Mouton, leader of the provincial opposition Cameron Dugmore, and provincial spokesperson on Community safety Mesuli Kama were assured that the matter would be investigated, and agreed to return to the station after a week to follow up.
Outside the police station, Dugmore said they also asked for an update on the investigation into the torching of Peter and Lesley Wagenaar’s Mini Cooper in May last year.
He said they had, in their possession, an email to local councillor Nicola Jowell (DA) that mentioned a number of Sea Point residents saying they needed to be watched carefully. Dugmore referred to the email as a “hit list”, which he said was causing fear among Sea Point residents.
The meeting with Mouton was itself a follow up of a meeting that ANC interim provincial committee treasurer Unathi Tshotwana and Kama had with police on Saturday, when sister paper the Weekend Argus reported on tensions in the suburb, caused by “a group of powerful and wealthy men”, who are accused of promoting anti-homeless, anti-poor, and sexist attitudes.
According to the story, the men – who include billionaire businessman Rob Hersov, Paul Jacobson, and attorney Gary Trappler – are accused of “abusing courts to intimidate and victimise” people who oppose them.
Hersov’s name and details appeared on a pamphlet, which names a number of individuals such as Good party secretary general Brett Herron, Souper Troopers activist Caryn Gootkin and organisations such as Ndifuna Ukwazi.
The pamphlet refers to the individuals named as “nasty leftists” and “ratbags.”
Hersov did not respond to a question asking him to confirm or deny that he wrote and sent the pamphlet, but referred us to his attorney. By time of writing, he had not responded to a query about who his attorney is.
Meanwhile, area councillor Nicola Jowell (DA) spoke about the pamphlet in an interview on CapeTalk, and called it an attempt to shut down free speech.
Asked to comment on the matter on Monday, attorney Gary Trappler said that, in fact, it was Jowell and her associates, in the Sea Point community, who were suppressing freedom of speech.
Trappler listed a number of court cases to underline his point and said: “Souper Troopers instituted high court proceedings against myself and Paul Jacobson, attempting to silence us and, for lack of legal merit, they were forced to withdraw their application.
“There are another two pending cases in the high court against community members, who simply happen to be women. These two cases are not attempts to silence them in the slightest, but rather to claim damages for defamation. That is very different. We have freedom of speech, but those freedoms cannot override an individual’s right to dignity and reputation.”
Reacting to the pamphlet, Herron said: “I have seen (the) ’hit list’ which looks like an email sent by Mr Rob Hersov and which includes my name.
“The email is puerile and unbecoming of a so-called billionaire or businessman. The names on the ’hit-list’, which includes me, are referred to as ’ratbags’ and whoever Hersov is addressing is threatened not to ’fraternise’ with the list of ’wicked people’.”
“This email, together with screengrabs of misogynistic and threatening language posted in a WhatsApp Group called S-Connect CT & Winelands, is unacceptable and it is shocking that members of this WhatsApp group associated themselves with this kind of language.”
Gootkin refused to comment.
In December last year, the Cape Argus reported about a group of women activists – helping the homeless in Sea Point – had said they are living in fear of a “brigade of white conservative men”, who have unleashed a “reign of online terror” on them and their activities ('White conservative men' intimidating women for feeding the homeless in Sea Point).