The City of Cape Town and the South African Police Service issued a joint call yesterday for people to stay away from Brackenfell today in light of the planned Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) protest, but the Cape Party took to social media to urge residents to turn out to ‘observe exactly what the EFF plans to do’.
Police and other law enforcement agencies were expected to be out in force ahead of the EFF protest, its second in the area, over disputed claims of racism in relation to a private year-end matric event reportedly attended only by white Brackenfell High School matrics, parents and two teachers.
Last week, EFF protesters withdrew after clashing with some parents – but vowed to return today. The party said in a social media post this week that it would ‘descend and ensure that nothing operates’.
The party cancelled a meeting with the Western Cape education department – intended to resolve the issues raised in the protest – saying it was too busy organising today’s protest.
EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego said: ‘Everyone knows that (provincial education MEC Debbie) Schäfer and (Premier Alan) Winde do not have the interest of black people at heart. The situation at Brackenfell is something they denied in the beginning and now that it serves their narrative they’re involved and suddenly want to speak about peace.
‘Our march will continue as planned as what happened to our members last week, is not something to be taken lightly. We gave Schafer more than enough time to meet with us and register our complaints but she was not interested.’
But Schäfer said: ‘Their representatives have said that they are too busy preparing for their protest on Friday to spare even one hour to discuss solutions to what is allegedly the reason for the protest.’
She added: ‘The EFF desperately wants a confrontation outside the school. Do not give in to their tactics. SAPS and other law enforcement authorities are making extensive preparations.’
Cape Party leader Jack Miller said while the organisation was aware of the calls by the City, Schäfer and the school to stay away from the area while EFF protesters were there, it believed it was important for residents to turn out and witness events ‘first-hand’.
He said: ‘As residents from the community we have the right to observe what takes place in our community. Most of the residents are worried about what this protest will mean for their properties and families, and they have the right to make sure that nothing happens.
‘The EFF has been unnecessarily terrorising our community and children over unfounded claims and we are tired of it. We will not be protesting against them, but we will stand in our community and listen and observe exactly what the EFF plans to do.’
Earlier this week, police clashed with protesters from the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) – described in one report as the ‘Positive Action Campaign’. The clash arose because the protesters did not have the required permit to demonstrate.
A spokesman for the group, Lindokuhle Matiwe, said: ‘For us this isn’t just about what goes on at the school, but the treatment of our fellow brothers when they spoke up against it. They were violently assaulted for standing up for their children by arrogant white people from Brackenfell.
‘We came here to tell them that Azania is our land and they can never tell us that we’re not welcome here. White people cannot continue to act as if we’re still under apartheid laws. We have a right to protest and call out racism.’