Activist group hit with R1.4m civil claim

The City wants activist group Gatvol Capetonian, of which Fadiel Adams is the leader, to pay damages worth R1.4 million

Activist group Gatvol Capetonian has until Monday April 19 to answer to a civil claim submitted by the City of Cape Town for R1.4 million worth of damage to municipal property around the city.

The City said R10 000 of the damages were caused during protests in the city centre in August 2019.

According to the City, there were damages to property at the Civic Centre entrance, as well as the entrance to Bo-Kaap at Wale Street, where tyres were burnt during the unlawful “shutdown” protest.

The Gatvol Capetonian total shutdown protest in Kensington on August 8 2019 to highlight the plight of those living in backyards and for access to land and housing. On the day, protesters barricaded sections of various roads, including Voortrekker Road near Jakes Gerwel and 5th Avenue; Prince George Drive at the M5 at Parkwood; Wale Street leading to the Bo-Kaap; Ocean View in Fish Hoek; the M5 near Dick Burton Road; the main road in Belhar near the KFC; and Kommetjie Road at Milky Way.

Other areas mentioned by the City where infrastructure was damaged due to protests included Grassy Park (R311 760.87), Atlantis (R336 946,75), Mitchell’s Plain (R50 000), Kensington (R50 000), Kommetjie (R361 953,31), Milky Way Road, Ocean View ( R170 000) and Delft (R11 909.48).

The City submitted the claim on Monday March 29, and told the CapeTowner that the organisation will have an opportunity to indicate whether they intend to defend the matter, and also what their plea is.

“All of this will be within 20 days of serving of the notice on 29 March,” they said.

The City is seeking full reimbursement of the cost to repair damages, being R1.3 million, plus interest per annum for the time it takes to pay back these funds, plus the City’s full legal costs.

Mayor Dan Plato, in a statement, said: “Destroying infrastructure is not an acceptable form of protest, nor is shutting down major routes and disrupting the lives of law-abiding residents.

“In South Africa, we need to draw the line on the rule of law, that is why we are holding these groupings accountable for their actions to the tune of R1.4 million.”

The City’s civil claim states that it was “reckless, wrongful and unlawful” of this organisation to incite a “shut down” while violating their Gatherings Act obligations to give notice, appoint convenors and marshalls, and refrain from violence.

“It is disappointing when political organisations cause harm to community infrastructure and damage critical assets that are installed to uplift communities. The City is committed to providing resources to all communities but this becomes difficult when there are individuals working against social cohesion as seen through their acts of destruction. The communities deserve better. The City respects the rule of law and the right of citizens to assemble, provided this is done peacefully and with respect to the rights of others,” said Mr Plato.

Meanwhile, Fadiel Adams from Gatvol Capetonian said they are working on a counter claim, but could not give details as he was still in consultation with attorneys about a strategy.

“The summons is a joke,” he said. “The DA (which runs the City of Cape Town) is wasting taxpayers’ money and the court’s time.

“For an event that supposedly happened two years ago, they choose to subpoena me nine days before a by-election, in which we are gaining serious momentum.

“We must never forget the people who run the DA are the heirs of apartheid, and now they have inherited apartheid’s election tactics as well.”

Mr Adams said Gatvol Capetonian has never staged a protest in the CBD. “If we are talking about the few times we demanded to see the housing minister – if that counts as a protest then yes. However, the City need to show us the case number in which anything was damaged.”

He said Gatvol Capetonian always called for peaceful protest, even at the time it is advertised. “If we call a protest off at 12, what happens after that has nothing to do with me.”

While he believes the protests were successful, he also believes that the organisation “won’t pay a cent” because “we can’t lose this case because there is no proof of anything.”

Meanwhile, the City’s legal representatives have further issued a letter of demand to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) for damage to infrastructure in Brackenfell in November last year. An amount of R87 312,25 is being sought from the EFF to cover the costs of infrastructure repair and fire-fighting equipment.