Cops red card Bo-Kaap protesters

Cape Town 190119 Banyana Banyana player Linda Motlhalo attacking while Netherlands defending.The Netherlands won the Winnie Mandela International Challenge 2-1 against South Africa at the Cape Town Stadium.Photographer Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

The Public Order Policing (POP) have been accused of manhandling a group of protesting Bo-Kaap women who went to Cape Town Stadium last Tuesday, January 21, when national women’s soccer team Banyana Banyana took on the Netherlands in a friendly match.

The match was played in honour of Winnie Mandela and the South African Football Association had made thousands of free tickets available for the public to go and watch the game.

Bo-Kaap women took protest placards to the match and claim that even
though they were allowed to get into the stadium with their placards, POP members forcibly removed them from the venue.

Some of their placards stated: “Hands off Bo-kaap. No to high rise buildings. Protect Bo-Kaap as a national heritage site.”

“What was supposed to be a great evening watching Banyana Banyana play and women supporting women turned into an abuse of power and violently manhandling of our women,” said Jacky Poking, who is a Bo-Kaap resident and the secretary of the Bo-Kaap Civic Ratepayers’ Association.

She said POP members arrived and told the women that the posters were offensive and must be removed. She said they then told the woman to drop the posters at the main gate to which they agreed because they still wanted to watch the game and they were told that they’d get the posters back.

“At the main gate, they took and kept the posters, and the women were put out of the stadium. POP told stadium security not to allow the women back into the stadium. Their bags were still inside the stadium. They had valid tickets but were now not allowed to use them to get back inside,” she said.

Ms Poking asked whether there
was a deliberate attempt to silence Bo-Kaap. “What was offensive about
the posters? Who called in POP?
Why were our women violently manhandled and removed from the stadium? On what authority did POP act when deciding to remove peaceful supporters?” she asked.

People weighed in on social media showing support for the Bo-Kaap women.

Bennet Bailey posted: “Bo Kaap – our heritage. Sport has always been an arena of battle. Both literally and figuratively. The attendance of the Bo-Kaap activists was to draw national and even international awareness around their campaign. The struggle to declare Bo-Kaap a heritage site is a marathon, and these small jibes will not deter them. Salute activists.”

Sea Point SAPS spokeswoman, Captain Elizabeth Munro, said: “A group
of women were picketing with posters inside the stadium. SAPS were asked to escort these women out of the stadium, which was done by Public Order Police (POPs), with no force, video footage is available.”