WATCH | Protesters block roads in Cape Town ‘gang’ suburbs to highlight frustrations
Police used tear gas‚ water cannon‚ rubber bullets and stun grenades against protesters in Bonteheuwel on Tuesday‚ but the Western Cape Total Shutdown was otherwise peaceful.
Working class activists aiming to draw attention to their plight on the Cape Flats closed roads in suburbs including Kensington‚ Hanover Park and Ottery.
Cars and taxis were turned around‚ and passengers were assisted to disembark from buses prevented from crossing intersections by lines of protesters.
The intervention of riot police in Bonteheuwel was the only report of clashes between officials and protesters‚ who did not have City of Cape Town permission for their gatherings.
Far from the planned shutdown‚ only a handful of roads were closed. JP Smith‚ the mayoral committee member for safety and security‚ estimated that only 300-350 protesters were on the streets.
Protest organiser Henriette Abrahams‚ from Bonteheuwel‚ said the aim of the demonstrations was to disrupt normal life so that “all tiers of government” paid attention to the light of the working class.
A statement from a group called the Western Cape Total Shutdown Communities said working class people continued to live in abject poverty and faced unprecedented levels of unemployment and violence.
“We cannot afford food and basic necessities such as water‚ electricity and transport‚ and added to this we live in overcrowded communities because of a lack of decent housing‚” said the statement.
“Further to this‚ the high levels of corruption in the public and private sector are exacerbating the poor’s plight‚ as resources which are meant to improve the lives of the poor are being stolen by thugs in suits and boardrooms‚ leaving the poor to die of hunger and violence.
“Our communities are saying enough is enough. We are taking back our power and mobilising to govern ourselves‚ as those meant to serve on our behalf have proven themselves untrustworthy and unaccountable to us‚ the working class.”