Ukwazi celebrates victory

Activist organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi has said charges dropped against one of their organisers is a victory for freedom of expression.

This comes after an incident that took place on June 5 on the Sea Point Promenade where Reclaim the City supporters hosted a public gathering on the Sea Point promenade in support of the campaign to #StopTheSale of Tafelberg, and for the site to be reserved for affordable housing.

This event included young people using chalk to draw a temporary mural along the promenade wave-break.

The statement said: “The mural depicted supporters’ visions and messages advocating for an ‘inclusive city’ through well-located affordable housing development. Law Enforcement officers intervened, and later issued Ndifuna Ukwazi organiser and Reclaim the City supporter Ntombi Sambu with a fine. Chalk is temporary, and washes off easily. It is obviously not graffiti. The Graffiti By-law is being applied as a smokescreen to violate citizens’ rights.

“Ms Sambu refused to pay the fine. Section 16 of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights protects freedom of expression, while Section 17 protects the right to peaceful assembly. The City of Cape Town’s petty persecution of Ms Sambu, under the Graffiti By-law, is a direct affront on her and other citizens’ ability to exercise these rights.”

Ms Sambu was due to appear at the Cape Town Municipal Court on Wednesday October 26 last week, where she learnt charges had been dropped.

Emile Engel, head of organising at Ndifuna Ukwazi, said: “This is a victory for freedom of expression, but we will continue to rally around Ms Sambu. We turn our focus to the pending South African Human Rights Commission investigation into her complaint that the City of Cape Town applied the Graffiti By-law to infringe on citizens’ right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”

JP Smith, mayco Member for Safety and Security said she was charged. “But the matter was not placed on the court roll due the summons being defective: the address of the court where the accused had to appear was not written in full. The prosecutor therefore withdrew the case against the accused. The accused could be charged again with the same offence should she continue to contravene the Graffiti By-law.”