Nine arrested at anti-vaxxer and pro-choice protest
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’RALLY FOR FREEDOM’
A PROTEST of anti-vaxxers and Covid-19 denialists descended into chaos after some protesters resisted arrest in Muizenberg yesterday.
More than 300 people, some barefoot, gathered for the 'Worldwide Rally for Freedom’ protest on the beach near the popular Surfers Corner when close to 50 police arrived to monitor the situation.
The protesters were against mandatory vaccinations, vaccine passports, social distancing, masks and the lockdown. This was the seventh event of its kind in the province this year.
Protesters who were not wearing masks were warned by police that it was illegal. After protesters refused to comply, police proceeded to make arrests.
Police confirmed the arrest of nine people. While some happily obliged and walked to the police van, others put up a fight. Police dragged them to the vans.
SAPS spokesperson Joseph Swartbooi said Muizenberg police had confirmed that six men and three women were arrested for not wearing a mask in public.
“Once charged, they are expected to make a court appearance in the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court on a charge of failure to comply with the instruction of the Disaster Management Act, to wear a mask in public,” he said.
Petrus Sotho from the Stop Farm Murders movement said they were not fighting, burning or looting but were staging a peaceful protest.
“We are here to speak the truth and not be forced to wear masks. We are tired of having to fight for this,” he said.
Sotho said, if anything, the arrests had given them momentum to continue their fight.
Leader of the United Democratic Front, Mohamed Ismail, said they were there to stand up for their human rights. The arrests were unlawful and he would not stand for it.
Criminal lawyer Naven Pillay said he was fighting for truth, transparency and for the children.
"We are lawfully gathered here,” he said.
Meanwhile as the matric learners gear up for mega Rage parties in Plettenberg Bay and Ballito, which will only allow vaccinated attendees, epidemiologist Professor Salim Abdool Karim has called for the parties to be cancelled after last year’s KwaZulu-Natal party was deemed a super-spreader event.
Abdool Karim noted that last year’s festival led to more than 1 000 Covid-19 cases and spurred the second wave.
G&G Productions, the organisers of Plett and Ballito Rage, were confident that the week-long celebrations in December would be a safe.
Greg Walsh, chief executive of G&G Productions, said it was a “no vax, no entry” event which would be held outdoors.
“We believe our vaccination and smart-testing strategy will ensure the festival maintains the green light in line with regulations. All attendees will be required to show proof of their government-approved Covid-19 vaccination certificate, which the organisers will verify through the Department of Health’s vaccine passport,” he said.
In addition, Walsh said, the organisers would use approved rapid antigen tests.
“All staff will need to be fully vaccinated, too, and will be tested daily before entry. Attendees will be tested on the first, third and final day of the five-day festival. The team is working tirelessly on the Ballito Rage 2021 safety, Covid-19 mitigation and operational plan. The mitigation tools now at our disposal are incomparable with 2020,” he said.
In keeping with current regulations around gatherings, he said the festival was limited to 2 000 people and festival passports were selling out.
But Abdool Karim, who previously chaired the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee, said: “The risk is too high. Even though people will be vaccinated, it doesn’t mean it does not have the potential to be a super-spreader event. I would support smaller, open-air and more controlled events,” he said.
“Another issue was that all it took was one or two cases, which would then spread like wildfire, especially when the attendees travelled back home.”