The City has denied any involvement in a planned shutdown organised by activist group Gatvol Capetonian. The group has reportedly rallied residents from 13 areas across the Cape Flats to shut down the entrances and exits of their communities to highlight just how little affordable housing there is in Cape Town.
“We have had no direct engagement with the organisers, so we cannot predict the extent to which the shutdown will be supported and what impact there will be. However, the City will provide any support to the South African Police Service that may be required around road closures, impact on traffic and other public safety measures that are required,” Mayco Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith said in a statement. “SAPS is the lead agency in terms of public order policing.”
Speaking in an interview with CapeTalk, Gatvol Capetonian spokesperson Fadiel Adams said that the shutdown will continue as planned for Thursday. “We are shutting down in defiance of the marginalisation of the people of the Cape Flats because of apartheid spatial planning that forces us to live in backyards and overcrowded rentals and council housing,” Adams said. “We want the land on the other side of the railway line. We want to go home.”
According to Adams, the group wants vast acres of land in order to build their own homes. “A shutdown will drive the local economy into the ground and destabilise the good work being done,” he added.
“The City supports peaceful protest action, but call on participants to respect the rights of others by not preventing free movement, and to refrain from any damage to refrain from damaging any public or private infrastructure or placing any lives at risk,” Smith said. “We do not believe it is helpful to limit mobility to already vulnerable communities as nothing is achieved by that. Such a protest simply harms the community one claims to be wanting to help and further dis-incentivizes investment and job creation in that community as well as preventing residents there from getting to work, preventing service delivery and preventing emergency vehicles from helping the community. We do not believe that this form of protest is in the public interest.”