The People's Movement for Change (PMC) has condemned the City of Cape Town (CoCT) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) government for what they label as a "disgraceful use of law enforcement agencies" after a Palestinian flag mural in Lavender Hill was painted over by CoCT workers.
The incident, caught on video and widely circulated on social media, has sparked outrage and accusations of hypocrisy. According to the viral video, CoCT workers can be seen painting over the mural, with law enforcement officers nearby.
"The removal of the Palestinian mural is not an isolated incident but part of a disturbing pattern aimed at stifling pro-Palestinian voices advocating against genocide and occupation. It is a clear violation of the fundamental right of freedom of expression," stated PMC national spokesperson Faizal Daniels.
Daniels emphasised the blatant hypocrisy demonstrated by the DA, accusing them of restricting freedom of expression while hoisting the Ukrainian flag on a government building in the Western Cape without consulting the people.
"We cannot remain silent in the face of such suppression," Daniels insisted.
"The targeted silencing of pro-Palestinian voices, the biased application of freedom of expression, and the negligence towards communities in need of law enforcement support demand outright condemnation."
The PMC also expressed concern over the City's reliance on by-laws to justify their actions, asserting that these regulations are selectively enforced to suppress the freedom of expression of pro-Palestinian voices. Moreover, the PMC criticised the allocation of funds to erase murals, while neglecting crucial upgrades to residential areas and failing to address issues like gang graffiti.
Although the City has yet to respond to the broader concerns raised by the PMC, or the matter of freedom of expression, it said: “Community members responsible for the mural have agreed to apply for permission to have the mural reinstalled following an engagement with Graffiti Unit officials this morning.”
They further explained: “This is a public building consisting of council-owned affordable rental units.
“In general, the process by which a recognised artist or organisation commissioned to produce artwork applies for a Public Art Permit is outlined in Section 9 of the City's Graffiti by-law of 2010, which can be accessed here.”
As the country continues to show solidarity and support for Palestine, this incident highlights the ongoing struggle for the right to express opinions without fear of suppression. The community awaits a resolution to this divisive issue that has sparked a nationwide conversation on freedom of expression and cultural representation.