Last year, in an act of unspeakable brutality that shook the nation, Luyanda Botha brutally raped and murdered UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana.
Nene, as she was known to her friends, was murdered inside a post office in Claremont.
Coming in the wake of other high-profile femicides and a rise in gender-based violence (GBV) across the country, South African women began to ask #AmINext?
It’s one year later, and despite speeches made by the president about how GBV is “another pandemic that is raging in our country” back in June, following a spike in cases of femicide during lockdown, we seem no closer to finding a solution for the problem.
This weekend past, on August 29, 2020, the anniversary of Uyinene’s death, protesters gathered outside Parliament to demand, once again, an end to the violence.
They were joined by another group protesting farm murders, including Bikers United Against Farm Murders and Racism, sporting stickers that read “No violence, no crime”.
The protest, which took place without a permit (denied due to rules about mass gatherings during lockdown), was peaceful:
Take a stand and rise against sexual and gender-based violence.
— UCT (@UCT_news) September 4, 2019
The bikers against farm murders also said their piece:
— David Chambers (@daveincapetown) August 29, 2020
Then SAPS arrived.
TimesLIVE spoke to witnesses on the scene:
“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.
…“The atmosphere started to feel a bit threatening, then suddenly police threw a grenade that filled the street with green smoke.
Demonstrations about gender-based violence and bikers against crime and farm murders clash with police at parliament in Cape Town on Saturday August 29 2020 ended with the arrest of about 12 protesters. @TimesLIVE @antigbv_su #GenderBasedViolence #FarmMurders #FarmMurderProtest pic.twitter.com/t7rnFKGqPe
— Esa Alexander (@ezaap) August 29, 2020
“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.”
A journalist attempted to keep filming after he was hit with teargas:
Children were present at the demonstration, with protester Sophia Farber-Daniel, 15, describing arrests taking place while people knelt on the ground.
“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
The crowd responded with “Justice and peace, f*** the police”, while covering the police vans with posters, or slogans.
#ProtestAction Chaos at motorcycle Protest to Parliament in Cape Town as @SAPoliceService disperse the protesters.. @BOSBEER2006 @1SecondLater @EWNTraffic @News24 @MARIUSBROODRYK pic.twitter.com/40XeS9CSl2
— BOSBEER.COM (@BOSBEER2006) August 29, 2020
Please look at how the police handled today’s peaceful protest in Cape Town : pic.twitter.com/s866Deara4
— Katara (@vuvumavuso_) August 29, 2020
In a characteristic display of escalation and brutality on the part of law enforcement, warning shots were fired during a moment of silence for the victims of GBV:
TW: gunshots/loud noises
at the anti-gbv protest in cape town today. warning shots fired during a moment of silence for victims of gbv. during a peaceful protest. this is how the police treat us. #GBVmustfall #Antigbvsu #GBV pic.twitter.com/EDnyyOI22l
— mish (@__cloudystars__) August 29, 2020
Western Cape police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk responded to the demonstration by opening 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.”
From what we can see in the videos above, it seems evident that the violence was provoked by SAPS.
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.”
18 people were arrested and are expected to appear in Cape Town Magistrates Court on Monday, says Van Wyk.
A common, and ironic, trend when South Africans protest violence is that they are routinely met with more violence from the police.
If those tasked with preventing gender-based violence are the perpetrators thereof, following instructions from up high, to drag women into vans, teargas them, fire rubber bullets, and beat them with riot shields, we won’t be seeing change in this country any time soon.
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