Last year's Total Shutdown saw various roads in Bonteuwel, Ottery and Hanover Park being shut down by residents who were fed up with gang violence. File photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Last year's Total Shutdown saw various roads in Bonteuwel, Ottery and Hanover Park being shut down by residents who were fed up with gang violence. File photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Total shutdown protest to affect major arterial roads in Cape Town on September 25

By Staff Writer Time of article published Sep 18, 2019

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Cape Town – The Total Shutdown movement will be protesting again on September 25 – which will affect major arterial roads in the Cape Town metro from 5am to 10am – because none of their demands have been met a year later.

When asked how it will differ from the shutdown staged by pressure group Gatvol Capetonian across the city on August 8, which was chiefly about housing issues and led to sporadic violence, one of the organisers, Nadia Mayman De Grass, told the Cape Times on Wednesday: "There won't be any burning tyres, there won't be any throwing of stones. 

"We will be attempting to close arterial roads such as the M7, Jakes Gerwel, the Stellenbosch Arterial, Valhalla Drive and Voortrekker Road from 5am to 10am because it seems there is no other way the government is going to listen to us accept when we affect businesses."

Another of the organisers, Abdul Karriem Matthews, said on social media: "The primary reason for this shutdown is that for an entire year national government, provincial government and local government have refused to accept and act on our demands. 

"Instead, at national level, they have given us a completely ineffective AGU (Anti-Gang Unit) and an even more useless SANDF deployment – the latter at a cost of R23 million alone for a two-month deployment. 

"By extending the deployment to March 2020, it will cost an additional R138 million. At local government level, our law enforcement officers and metro police issue fines to the homeless and protect the rich and the tourists.

"The AGU and the SANDF has to date not arrested and prosecuted one major gang leader or drug lord, let alone all of them.

"With more than 150 000 gang members, all armed, we are in fact facing a low-intensity war waged by what constitutes an armed militia terrorising working-class communities…

"The mortuaries are filled to capacity and our hospitals are practising battle-field medicine as if we are in a combat zone."

De Grass said: "The army doesn't have a mandate to arrest crime in our areas. What they are doing is they are escorting the SAPS. There has been no operation of note from the army. 

"We haven't seen any lockdown. The army has overstepped their bounds as well because they have physically attacked some of our people and that is not what we wanted. (De Grass couldn't confirm whether anyone had laid charges against the SANDF.)

"They have road closures but it doesn't make any difference and the government is wasting money. And our premier, Alan Winde, has no mandate from the people to ask for the redeployment of the army because they don't consult communities.

"The army is only focusing on the hot-spot crime areas. They are in Bonteheuwel for three hours and then they move to another area."

Another of the demands on the memorandum was for a large-scale Public Works programme whereby "our people can be employed on a decent wage", De Grass said.

"Crime is not only a policing issue. We are also talking about socioeconomic issues that need to be addressed if we want to get rid of crime.

"We are talking about inequality, unemployment, the trauma our working-class communities are suffering, the gender-based violence that has been highlighted of late, which happens on a daily basis.

"Half the cases aren't reported and don't make the front pages of newspapers. It doesn't just affect the middle class or students – it affects working-class communities as well.

"We would like middle-class communities to come out and support us in our plight because it's a genocide that is going on in working- class communities.

"Departments aren't speaking to each other and there is no holistic plan to get rid of crime. Instead, they want to put plasters on festering wounds.

"Police Minister Bheki Cele came to Bonteheuwel last year and made a whole lot of promises. They didn't even work on our memorandum on what we are asking for. 

"This year we have also seen the activation of crime, with local government wanting to further populate our areas. They are talking away our open spaces and they don't give a damn about what is happening in our communities."

Matthews addressed the concerns of motorists desperately trying to get to work during the shutdown, posting on Facebook: "Some will say, hey, what about our jobs. 

"No boss can fire you for arriving late to work so that is a non-argument. The working class get robbed and killed daily to and from their places of work. 

"What about school? It's school holidays so bring your children with you to the shutdown. What about hospital appointments? We will ensure that people with hospital appointments are allowed safe passage."

On what their response would be if their memorandum is ignored again, De Grass said: "One of the women in a meeting made a very apt description, saying, 'Comrades, don't forget that this is a marathon that we are running and the 25th of September is the first water point'. 

"We will go back to the drawing board if nothing happens and we will come up with a new plan."

The Total Shutdown movement's full statement read:

"Stop the gender based violence! Stop the crime in our communities! Shutdown your area on 25 September 2019!

"The current spate of gender based violenc, especially on the Cape Flats, has managed to galvanise our communities across the race and class divide.

"The brutal murders of two university students, Uyinene Mrweteyana and Jesse Hess, ensured that Cape Town was flooded with protest actions for the bigger part of the last few weeks. Our people united. Yet, we need that same kind of unity to fight crime and poverty as well.

"As the Total Shutdown communities, we have spearheaded protests during the course of last year culminating in Hanover Park, Bonteheuwel, Kenisington/Factreton, Bishop Lavis, Nyanga, Langa as well as Ottery and Manenberg either having full-scale shutdowns or a limited shutdown in terms of a picket protest on 25 September, 2018.

"This resulted in the Minister of Police meeting with us on two occasions. We also had talks with the Human Rights Commission. 

"Sadly, our protest actions had limited intervention from the state. Except for the establishment of the Anti-Gang Unit, with limited success, our demands remain unanswered.

"We, therefore extend an invitation to all fraternal organisations leading in their respective communities to attend a planning meeting on Wednesday, 18 September, 2019 at 18h30 at Voorspoed Primary school, c/o Lonedown and Greenturf roads.

"Our demands remain the same:

1. We call for an end to the deployment of the SANDF in our areas.

2. We call for the immediate deployment of permanent base camps in all the hot zones.

3. We call for the immediate deployment of tactical response units in all the hot zones.

4. We call for the immediate reallocation of SAPS from the rich suburbs and to be allocated to the hot zones.

5. We call for the immediate deployment of Law Enforcement and Metro Police to the hot zones.

6. We demand a Mass Public Works Programme at a living wage as unemployment, poverty and inequality creates the breeding ground for organised crime.

7. We call for the building of drug rehabilitation centres in our communities, especially for our youth from crippling substance abuse addiction.

8. We call for an army of social workers, more teachers, community sports and skills development centres.

9. We demand that the Western Cape be declared a disaster area and that all required human and material resources be utilised to better the lives of the working class.

10. We demand police protection for train commuters as well as police presence along taxi routes and reasurring saftey measures at bus and taxi ranks.

"Our communities are reeling under the crime and violence. We need to register our protest action as the only way in which government will pay attention to our dire plight.

"We have had meetings with them and as yet, nothing happened. A working class united can never be defeated!"

Cape Times

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