The mayor of Cape Town has condemned the disruption of a prayer event by pro-Israeli supporters on the promenade in Sea Point and says the city’s commitment to “tolerance and freedom of speech is unassailable”.
Sunday’s demonstration turned violent when pro-Palestinian supporters disrupted it and police deployed a water cannon and stun grenades after protesters apparently disobeyed police officers’ order to disperse, says Capt. FC van Wyk, police spokesperson.
Four men were arrested on charges of public violence.
A group of protesters and police officers clashed at one stage while police officers dragged a protester to a police van. “Police brutality!” some pro-Palestinian protesters shouted.
Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis says it is the job of the police and law enforcement agencies to protect residents’ right to peaceful protest, and the responsibility of every citizen to respect it.
“Public order policing is under the authority of the police and they are in command when incidents of public disorder occur.”
Hill-Lewis condemned Sunday’s violence and says other Capetians should do the same.
“This violence deserves the condemnation of all Capetonians who value free expression in our open democracy.
“While residents or groups may disagree violently with each other, they may not engage in violent disruption. We appeal to all residents to refrain from doing so.
“Every person or group, of every belief and position, has the right to protest peacefully in South Africa. That right is constitutionally protected, and for good reason, because in South Africa’s past certain demonstrations were banned or violently suppressed and opinions censored.”
On Sunday, the pro-Palestinian protesters waved Palestinian flags as they chased away those attending the pro-Israel prayer meeting and tore up their posters.
This after a peaceful march of Pro-Palestinian supporters on Saturday preceded the chaos of Sunday’s demonstration.
According to Van Wyk, around 12,000 protesters attended Saturday’s march to the office of the Western Cape premier. “They were peaceful and no incidents were reported. A memorandum was handed over and the protesters dispersed at 15:00.”
Hill-Lewis praised the peaceful action.
“In the same way that tens of thousands of residents gathered (Saturday) to protest peacefully, so the planned demonstration (Sunday) had to be respected and allowed to continue peacefully and without interference.”
Judgments about Jewish children condemned
Hill-Lewis says the metro has received video footage of an alleged representative of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) who labeled Jewish children in Cape Town as “murderers” during Saturday’s demonstration.
“Such hateful language must likewise be condemned by all. “Radical elements do not speak for Capetonians, nor even for the protesters they claim to represent,” says Hill-Lewis.