Cape Town ‘shutdown’ sees protests in Hanover Park, Bishop Lavis

Protesters blocked roadways in Hanover Park on Wednesday morning to voice concerns over the scourge of gender-based violence.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

Protesters gathered to block roadways in Hanover Park and Bishop Lavis early on Wednesday, calling for an end to femicide and gang violence while police fired stun grenades to disperse taxi operators who were allegedly blocking buses.

A year on from the “total shutdown” protests in 2018, residents of impoverished areas rallied once more to vent their frustration with crime, gangsterism and the ongoing scourge of gender-based violence.

Organiser Abdul Kariem Matthews said, in a post on Facebook on Tuesday, that the protests would remain peaceful.

“We want an end to the war on the Cape Flats. Some suggest that we are impeding the rights of workers to go work. As if the working class don’t get robbed, stabbed, shot, raped and killed on the way to work,” he wrote.

“No political party has expressed support for the Total Shutdown. We are not surprised as we all know that they just want our votes. NGOs such as Triangle Project, Unite Behind and WWMP have expressed their support and shown real solidarity.”

He vowed that the protest would remain peaceful and allow emergency services personnel to do their work.

Protesters disperse as police fire stun grenades in Bishop Lavis.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

“We will remain peaceful at all times. We do not advocate any form of violence. We will allow the free movement of vehicles from before 5am and after 10am and guarantee the free movement at all times for emergency medical services and people with Dr’s and hospital appointments.”

The list of demands from the shutdown included improved volumes of prosecutions for violent offenders, and permanent tactical response teams in affected areas.

“We want permanent police base camps, permanent tactical response teams,” he said. “We want the arrest and prosecution of all the gang leaders and drug lords.”

“Our demands are reasonable and after more than a year our pleas and tears remain unanswered by national government. This is why we going back to the streets in a few hours.”

Rodney Zeeberg, president of the Bishop Lavis Action Community group, said residents were fed up with empty promises.

“We are protesting against gender-based violence, crime and the poverty that our people are suffering in,” he said. “Government is neglecting our community…

“We are sick and tired of waiting on politicians to resolve our problems, they have clearly shown that they are not interested.”

The city’s traffic services spokesperson Richard Coleman said police were on scene to ensure that the protests didn’t escalate.

“Officer reports a couple of people picketing peacefully off the roadway at above location. They are being monitored,” he said.

“Same scenario for Bonteheuwel at Bluegum and Jakes Gerwel. SAPS and Traffic on scene.”

He said taxi operators had forced buses to turn around.

“Taxi operators blocking Lavis Drive turning in from 35th Avenue Bishop Lavis. Buses denied entry and forced to turn around.”

Shortly after this announcement, police used stun grenades to disperse the taxi drivers.

Hanover Park Avenue North was closed from Downberg Road, with Lonedown Road West closed from Heinz Road.

Hanover Park resident Fadiel Carollisen said: “We are tired of all the killings in the place, of being robbed, of having our schoolchildren gunned down every day,” he said.

BY DAN MEYER

TimesLIVE

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