Protesters aim for Clifton beach as cops deny security firm 'rape' claim
The beach will be full of life for residents of the upmarket Cape Town suburb of Clifton at the weekend as #ReclaimClifton organisers hope to fill Fourth Beach with protesters.
Prominent #FeesMustFall leaders have entered the fray after it emerged that a private security company, Professional Protection Alternatives (PPA), ordered people to leave the beach on Sunday.
Beachgoers called a local radio station as far back as last Thursday complaining about the activities of PPA on the beach.
The city of Cape Town has distanced itself from the security company, as has the Camps Bay and Clifton Ratepayers' Association.
On Thursday, one of the organisers of #ReclaimClifton, Phumzile Jack, said they expected more than 1.000 protesters to gather at Fourth Beach at 6pm on Friday.
Jack said protesters had indicated they intended visiting the beach daily until New Year’s Day.
He said the security company had been hired by racists who did not want to share the beach with black people. However, there are indications that beachgoers of all races were kicked off the beach.
"There are black people who own property in the area who say they have also experienced racism even though they own multimillion-rand homes," said Jack. "A lot of people have responded to our call."
Co-organiser and #FeesMustFall activist Chumani Maxwele said he was one of the beachgoers who were driven off the beach on Sunday. He said wealthy homeowners thought they were entitled to the beach.
"We were here that evening," said Maxwele. "We know white people are offended by black people on the beach. If you visit the First to the Fourth beaches you will find that the beaches are personalised. The discrimination of black people in these areas is so deep."
Activist Fatima Shabodien, who has been vocal about the matter on social media, said she would support Friday's protest and had organised another for Saturday evening.
Shabodien was one of the beachgoers who questioned the security company’s authority when they were told the beach closes at 8pm.
"We understand that there is action planned for Gordon’s Bay as well," she said. "This thing is widespread. We will support our comrades from #FeesMustFall, they are not the enemy. We are clear on who the enemy is."
PPA CEO Alwyn Landman told News24 on Wednesday that his guards has been brought in to help the city’s law enforcement officials after two 15-year-olds were raped. Landman denied that his company closed the beach, saying council law enforcement officers were responsible.
Police spokesperson Brig Novela Potelwa said no rape incidents had been registered at Camps Bay police station on Sunday.
"Information at the disposal of the SAPS suggests there was an attempt to sexually violate a 15-year-old girl. However, that was prevented by a group of beachgoers who subsequently reported the incident to police," she said.
"The victim and her family refused to open a case against the suspect, who is known to them.
"It is on this basis the SAPS refutes allegations that the security company was asked to intervene following two rape incidents. Reports of unruly behaviour by beachgoers are also disputed."
Potelwa said the police were investigating three assault cases against a security company in the area. "The complainants, two beach vendors and an acquaintance of a female restaurant employee, opened assault cases against the private security personnel for different incidents."
The city council also distanced itself from PPA. Executive director for safety and security Richard Bosman said: "We note the statement issued by the company in question, PPA, indicating that they were operating on the authority of the city of Cape Town. The statement is inaccurate."
Bosman said the city had no contract with PPA and had never given the company any authority to enforce its by-laws. He said complaints about the security company’s conduct should be directed to the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority.
"Any person who feels that they have been threatened or intimidated by PPA staff on the day in question, or any other time, can lay a charge with the police," said Bosman.