Protestors from across the Cape Town metropole gathered at Parliament in the cold and rainy weather on Saturday, August 29. What began as a peaceful protest against gender-based violence (GBV) quickly escalated when a group of bikers protesting against farm murders joined the group.
This event marked the one-year anniversary of the death of University of Cape Town (UCT) student Uyinene Mrwetyana. In 2019, her brutal murder and rape sparked a wave of protests not just in South Africa, but across the world as citizens of other countries showed solidarity in the country’s fight against GBV.
As reported by TimesLIVE, witnesses estimated that approximately 1000 GBV protestors gathered on Roeland Street in Cape Town’s CBD. The protest had been denied permission under lockdown regulations, but protestors decided to gather regardless.
What the phuk is going on in Cape Town @jsteenhuisen
When there is a peaceful white protest, your corrupt cops gotta get violent on us. But let the murderous looting blacks protest, then no cops around…
We want answers or you can forget our votes, as it seems Cpt is failed https://t.co/PNUtGPl6zy
— ✝️ What About Mike (@GCNetwork001) August 29, 2020
The protest started out peacefully, but turned when hundreds of bikers arrived. This prompted police to set off a green smoke grenade into the street, and things quickly became chaotic.
Video footage circulated via social media shows the bikers breaking through the barricades police had set up. It also shows police pulling riders off their motorcycles.
#ProtestAction Chaos at motorcycle Protest to Parliament in Cape Town as @SAPoliceService disperse the protesters.. @BOSBEER2006 @1SecondLater @EWNTraffic @News24 @MARIUSBROODRYK pic.twitter.com/40XeS9CSl2
— BOSBEER.COM (@BOSBEER2006) August 29, 2020
Witnesses reported hearing loud bangs and the sound of stun grenades being thrown. Protestors also began chanting “Justice and peace, f*** the police” at the police’s violent response.
A woman is seen through the window of a police van after being detained during a protest against gender based violence outside the parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, August 29, 2020 pic.twitter.com/VK2ppmlz0H
— Russell Boyce (@Cropperboyce) August 29, 2020
There are also reports of two police officials attempting to arrest a protestor with their guns drawn.
There has been public outrage at the conduct of police during the protest, as many believe that there was not any need for such a violent retaliation.
“Thousands took to the streets in Cape Town in abid to bring further pressure on the Gender Based Violence and Farm Attack crimes in South Africa. Many have reported that the protests started peacefully until the police officers arrived with their weapons and stun grenades, one eye witness described the Police as animals,” one social media user said. “In some of the footage it can be seen that police drag a man off his bike and wrestle him to the ground.”
“So a peaceful protest is turned into something ugly by the police. Maybe they should be out there protecting the very people the march is in aid of. It’s truly sad that the government is turning a bling eye to all the GBV and try and silence those willing to speak out,” another said.
According to South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk, an investigation has been launched into cases of public violence, attempted murder, transgressions against the Disaster Management Act and malicious damage to property.
Eighteen people were arrested, and will spend the weekend in cells at the Cape Town Central police station. They will appear in court on Monday, August 31.