Demonstrations about gender-based violence and farm murders at parliament in Cape Town on Saturday ended with the arrest of 18 protesters.
Witnesses said about 1,000 women gathered in Roeland Street at 11am, shortly after the first anniversary of the murder of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana.
“We had been warned that permission for the protest had been denied under lockdown regulations, but hundreds of women turned up anyway,” said one protester.
— David Chambers (@daveincapetown) August 29, 2020
“The police had blocked off Roeland Street but there was a very gentle atmosphere. Then hundreds of motorbikes arrived en masse to protest against farm murders.
“The atmosphere started to feel a bit threatening, then suddenly police threw a grenade that filled the street with green smoke.
“People started running, and there were lots of bangs which I assume came from the police firing rubber bullets and stun grenades. Everything became very frantic and wild, and there were women in tears.”
— Esa Alexander (@ezaap) August 29, 2020
Many of the motorcyclists who joined the protest as part of a nationwide uprising dubbed Bikers United Against Farm Murders and Racism sported stickers reading “No violence, no crime”, but TimesLIVE photographer Esa Alexander filmed police pulling one of them to the ground, sparking a violent clash.
Protester Sophia Farber-Daniel, 15, said the demonstrators who were arrested were kneeling on the street in the rain and holding up placards.
“They were thrown in the back of police vehicles, then the police started using their vehicles to try to herd the crowd back up the street,” she said.
Sophia said the crowd responded to the police by chanting “Justice and peace, f*** the police”, and covered many of their vehicles with posters.
One marcher said: “If you burn down schools, the police do nothing, but if you protest about gender-based violence or farm murders they respond like this.”
Western Cape police spokesperson Capt FC van Wyk said an investigation had been launched into cases of public violence, malicious damage to property, transgressions of the Disaster Management Act and an attempted murder.
“According to reports, a group of about 500 bikers and 400 people with posters participated in a gender-based violence and femicide protest,” he said.
“The reports further indicate they blocked the road and damaged vehicles in the vicinity. Police members took action to disperse the crowd.”
The arrested people are expected to appear in Cape Town Magistrates Court on Monday, said Van Wyk.