Artists who protested lockdown regulations on N3 appear in court as scores gather in support
Durban – The case against the 32 artists who were arrested a week ago during a protest on the N3 has been adjourned to next month for a decision on how to proceed by the senior public prosecutor.
They were arrested during a protest where they called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to open up entertainment events capacity to at least 70%.
Security was beefed up in court and only the accused and their representatives were allowed in court.
The artists are out on R1 000 bail each and appeared in court under extreme police guard following last week’s chaos that brought Durban to a standstill.
The protesting artists blockaded the busy road after Spaghetti Junction near the Pavilion with cars and a huge truck with sound equipment and spent athree hours performing in the middle of the road before the police arrived and fired rubber bullets and grenades in an attempt to disperse them.
They have been unable to work for the past six months due to the lockdown regulations that allow only a limited number of people in a venue.
On Wednesday, scores of artists, many of whom travelled from outside the province, gathered outside the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court in support of their fellow artists who are facing charges of Contravening the Disaster Management Regulation and obstruction of traffic in terms of the Road Traffic Act by holding an illegal gathering and an illegal mini concert on a public road.
The creative industry sector personalities called on Ramaphosa to relax the lockdown regulations and allow them to return to work.
Carrying placards with slogans such as #Vulapresident, they chanted songs calling for the president to open up the country.
They called for the court to be lenient to the accused by releasing them on a warning without a criminal record.
Others said that no artist should have been arrested on the day of the incident, but the government should have sent its officials to listen to their grievances instead of police arresting them and dispersing the protest with rubber bullets.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe called on the government to draw up a clear recovery plan for the country’s cultural and creative arts sector.
“We hope for an amicable solution to this matter. We understand the issues that are being raised by the artists and the countrywide calls for consideration of opening the industry at 70% capacity. We call on the government to simplify its criteria for Covid-19 relief fund requirements and processes so that it will be easy for the industry to access such financial relief,” said Mabe.