Cape Town protests: Activists appear in court, released on warning

The 16 protesters who were arrested over the weekend during violent clashes with police at a gender based violence (GBV) and farm murder protest in Cape Town have been released on a warning after appearing in court on Monday 31 August. 

Of those arrested, many were students, with the youngest being 19-year-old. They were remanded in custody until lawyers secured their release in the early hours of Sunday morning, and appeared at the Cape Town Magistrate's Court the following day on charges of public violence, being told to return to court on 13 October.

Cape Town protesters clash with police  

Chaos broke out on the streets of Cape Town on Saturday, when two separate groups convened near Parliament to air their grievances regarding GVB and attacks and killings on South African farms. 

The protests were populated by affiliates of the #EndFemicide and Bikers Against Farm Murders movements, and both had initially gathered peacefully before it is alleged that one of the bikers broke through a police line barricading the gathering crowd from parliament. 

One of the protesters from the GBV group told EWN that this action sparked the scene of anarchy that followed. 

"One of the bikers drove into the barricade, breaking it and the police officers pulled him off the bike and he threw a fist and that was when police opened fire and threw stun grenades."

Lawyer calls for CCTV footage to be studied  

Lawyers representing the accused asked the court why police had not yet obtained CCTV footage of the protests, which lawyer Anthony Berinato said would exonerate his clients of guilt and expedite the process of finalising the matter. 

He specifically referred to the camera systems belonging to Parliament, which he said would cover an extensive range of the area in which the alleged crimes were committed, also questioning why bystanders hadn't been interviewed by the police to corroborate the reported transgressions. 

He said that many of those who had been arrested are preparing for exams and that a swift course of justice would be appreciated. At least one of the arrested group was a biker. 

Cape Town police officers accused of heavy -handedness

Police have been accused of heavy-handedness, with reports that officers drew their weapons and dragged bikers of their bikes. 

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said that arrests had been made because protesters "blocked the road and damaged vehicles in the vicinity". 

"Members took action to disperse the crowd. SAPS members arrested 18 people," he said. 

The initial report on the matter suggested that the group were facing a far more severe list of charges, with van Wyk having said on Sunday 30 August that the group would possibly be charged with "public violence, malicious damage to property, transgressions relating to the Disaster Management Act and an attempted murder". 

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