The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have told protesters involved in the unfurling land eviction drama in Cape Town that they should "intensify" efforts to reclaim land that they believe rightfully belongs to them.
Addressing members of the Kraaifontein community on Monday 27 July, the EFF's Regional Chairperson, Unathi Ntame, did nothing to calm the mounting chaos unfolding in the metro – with violent protesters clashing with police again on Monday in several areas – and instead rallied a crowd to up the ante and occupy spaces they feel entitled to.
Cape Town EFF tells Kraaifontein residents to claim land
Protests in Cape Town and surrounding areas have been ongoing for over a week, with residents evicted by anti-land invasion units voicing their grievances through intense civil disorder.
Buildings, including a school, a library, and a new COVID-19 treatment facility – have been severely damaged, and protesters continue to launch stones at motorists on many of the busiest highways in and around the city.
In a tweet sent out on Monday afternoon, the EFF said that their chairperson in the Western Cape had instructed residents to follow the party's primary objective – take back the land.
"Regional Chairperson, Fighter Unathi Ntame, addressed the people of Kraaifontein in Cape Town and articulated the cardinal pillar of the EFF: People must intensify the expropriation of the land without compensation," they said.
"Land must be occupied!"
@EFF_Cape_Metro Regional Chairperson Fighter Unathi Ntame, addressed the people of Kraaifontein in Cape Town and articulated the cardinal pillar No.1 of the @EFFSouthAfrica: People must intensify the expropriation of the land without compensation. Land Must be Occupied! pic.twitter.com/7POzFHBRRN— EFF_Cape_Metro (@EFF_Cape_Metro) July 27, 2020
Rallying call gives credence to political interference allegations
The assertion gives credence to rumours that the protests themselves are politically motivated, with City of Cape Town's Executive Mayor, Dan Plato, earlier calling for the South Africa Police Service to bring an end to the protests by whatever means necessary.
"It cannot be that a so-called 'shutdown' is announced and promoted in advance by opportunistic political groupings, who plan to infringe on the rights of residents," Plato said in a statement. "I call on the South African Police Service (SAPS) to prevent those intending to terrorise law-abiding residents [on Monday].
"I have written to the Western Cape provincial commissioner, urging a coordinated law enforcement response to protect residents," he added.
City of Cape Town opposing SAHRC, EFF court application
The City of Cape Town said on Friday 24 July that the ongoing court battle with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), in tandem with political organisations such as the EFF, have launched a court bid to oppose the removal of illegal structures on City owned land, a bid which the City believe would be disingenuous to say the least.
"If the applicants obtain this relief, it would be almost impossible for landowners to protect their property from unlawful occupation and to prevent people from establishing homes, albeit unlawfully, on the property of others," they said.
"This will set a dangerous precedent for all landowners and goes far beyond what the Constitution and Prevention of Illegal Evictions (PIE) Act allow."
They said that the interdict would lead to severe backlogs in the court roll, and obstruct legitimate claims.
"Court rolls will be flooded with applications by landowners, both private and public, seeking urgent and immediate determinations of whether or not a particular structure is occupied and subject to the PIE Act requirement of an eviction order."
The court case has been postponed and will next be heard at the Western Cape High Court on Friday 31 July.
Cape Town protests 'wasting police resources'
The City's Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith, said on Monday that the protests must be quelled to free up valuable police resources, adding that at least 30 arrests have been made since the chaos began.
"The City has been compelled, along with the South African Police Service, to act against violent protesters over the last two weeks, and almost 30 arrests have been effected," Smith said.
"Redirecting policing resources to the intended protest actions will have the outcome of distracting police from dealing with problems with gang violence and the current state of land invasions, which may therefore lead to more unlawful occupation of land," he said.