Cape Town - Police have defended the heavy police presence at the Pro-Palestine protest which had an estimated 4 000 people in attendance in Sea Point on Sunday.
Police said there were 4 000 people at yesterday’s "Palestine Solidarity Picket“. Many of them waved Palestinian flags and chanted their support of Palestine.
It was the latest in a series of marches across the country in which people protested against the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
The “picket” was organised by the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) which also came together with a non-profit organisation, Truth Collective South Africa (TCSA), to help raise awareness and funds for Palestine.
In an SABC interview, TCSA director Razaan Jacobs said it was contacted by the Palestine Embassy to raise funds for urgent medical aid for Gaza. Jacobs said the funds would be handed over within the first week of June.
“We urge everyone, whether it’s Muslim or non-Muslim, (to donate) as it’s not about religion at the end of the day, it’s just about humanity. So, we urge everyone to donate to the TCSA fund as we are taking the money to Egypt, and then from Egypt going directly into Gaza,” Jacob said.
After the protest, onlookers’ reported barbed wire, and also a heavy-handedness from the SAPS.
In an interview with CapeTalk, provincial police spokesperson André Traut denied that they put on an excessive display of force. He said police took the necessary safety measures.
“When there is a protest, we have to deploy our members to maintain law and order. Members that you saw deployed in Sea Point yesterday is no other than other protest you see in other areas.
“We have to make provision for any occurrence and that is why our members were deployed there,” Traut said.
“When we maintain law and order, we take measurements to ensure that no violence erupts. That is just safety precaution measures.
“What we saw yesterday was about 4 000 people participating in the protest and, fortunately, no serious incidents were reported but our members were there to maintain law and order.”
Traut added: “The members you saw deployed yesterday was… to protect everybody. When there is permission for a protest, we have an obligation towards the protesters as well, so the number of police officers in the area was to ensure the safety of both parties – those participating and the general public.”
In response to reports that protesters were egged on by by-standers, Traut said no one reported the incident to the police but if they were egged on, they could open a case at Sea Point police station.