Despite warnings by a Cape Regional Court magistrate that people may not gather to protest over Cape Town’s ongoing sanitation debacle, hundreds of protestors demonstrated outside the court building on Wednesday.
Magistrate A Louis’s warming came as 184 protestors who were arrested transporting bags of human waste into Cape Town by train on Monday with the alleged intention of emptying them at provincial and city offices, appeared in court.
The ongoing protests over sanitation in Cape Town informal settlements reached a new level when ANC Youth League leader Loyiso Nkohla, together with a handful of other local political leaders, emptied containers of human waste on the steps of the provincial legislature on Monday last week.
The following day, on June 4, a group of protestors led by Nkohla and former ANC PR councillor Andile Lili also emptied containers of human waste on cars outside a hall in Khayelitsha while Premier Helen Zille was inside celebrating the first anniversary of the 110% Green economic development campaign.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has also been prevented by protestors from addressing some informal settlement communities over sanitation delivery.
The local political leaders and protesting residents are dissatisfied the City’s planned rollout of Portable Flush Toilets in which waste is flushed into a sealed container, which they save amount to a glorified bucket system.
Dissatisfaction over the initiative was worsened by the fact that workers for city-contracted cleaning company Sannicare have been on strike for ten weeks, resulting in the toilet containers in certain informal settlements not having been emptied.
On Wednesday the 184 protesters arrested on Monday this week faced charges of public violence and convening a gathering without notice.
The group appeared briefly in front of Louis. The majority of the accused appointed a Legal Aid attorney to represent them but later indicated they would independently organise a lawyer to represent them.
Nkohla, who has led the protests, along with ANC Youth League leader Bongani Ngcombolo, did not appear with the other accused in court.
The pair, although charged with public violence, will be appearing separately at a later, as yet unknown, date, after handing themselves in to police on Tuesday night in a show of solidarity with the other protestors.
The group of 184 was called before in groups of between ten and twenty at a time to state what their decision would be regarding legal representation.
All except seven of the accused had been released from custody on Monday night on a warning to appear before the court.
Among those held in custody pending a bail application is former ANC PR councillor Andile Lili, who is identified as one of the original leaders of the sanitation protests.
Although ordered by Magistrate Louis to desist from protesting over sanitation delivery but as groups of accused were released from court after appearing in front of the magistrate, they started demonstrating in song outside the court.
The accused said they are not willing to stop protesting, saying the opposed the use of ‘buckets toilets’.
‘We heard what the court said, but we not willing to stop the protest” said accused Sithembele Majova.
‘We are not going to stop now. We made it clear that we do not want the porta- pottie toilets. Until Helen Zille understands that the portable flush toilet is a disgrace to us black people, we will continue with the protest.” said Majova.
He said in Khayelitsha’s TR section where he lives, people put the bucket toilets under their bed, because they are scared of going outside at night to relieve themselves.
Regarding the court’s instruction to desist from illegal gatherings and protests, he said asking permission every time they protest was a waste of time and they would not do it.
Accused protester Nolizwi Ngcana, addressing other accused outside court, said they needed to find a private attorney.
”We must have a meeting as leaders, to find a way of hiring a lawyer to represent all of us,” said Ngcana.
Magistrate Louise postponed the case until August 2 for further investigation. – Nombulelo Damba