Cape Town was painted black, red, green and white on Saturday, as swarms of people took to the streets in solidarity with the people of Palestine. From as early as 9am, there was high volumes of traffic coming into the city and roads were blocked off in preparation for the march.
Organisers estimate that 200 000 people took part in the SA March for Gaza, led by the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P). Its being hailed a historic event, the largest march since the anti apartheid demonstrations in South Africa before democracy.
Spirits were high at the start in District Six, an area that reflects the pain of apartheid forced removals – which many Palestinians understand. Chants of the Takbeer, “Free, free Palestine” and “Amandla” reverberated in the streets, as people set foot in the march.
With the march being held on Women’s Day, the demonstration was led by women, many of them dressed in black thoubs and Palestinian scarves. Babies in prams, toddlers on their father’s shoulders, and children were seen wearing Palestinian scarves or waving flags. There was a huge presence of learners from primary schools and madrassas, supported by their teachers. The large turnout of women and children at the protest was symbolic of the Palestinian women and children slaughtered in Gaza over the past month.
In remembrance of Gaza’s children, a huge colourful banner was created bearing the name of each child killed. Other activists hoisted a tent-like banner above their heads, while smaller slogan placards were seen carried. Some of the slogans read: “Stop the genocide in Gaza”, “Expell the Israeli ambassador” and “Judaism does not equal Zionism”.
Most protesters were clear on their goal to create awareness of the “human injustice” of the current conflict in Gaza.
“I love the vibe. I love the atmosphere and that everyone took the time out of their busy schedule. I am hoping with all these people, South African makes a meaniningful contribution to support Gaza. Everyone who is suffering,” says Najahaan Kisten.
Most demonstrators expressed their emotion on the issue, saying how they had been brought to tears by the slaying of innocent women and children.
“I want them to have freedom and war to stop in Palestine. Stop killing small children and innocent people. I hope this march makes them realize that they need to leave the innocent people alone,” says 12 year old Thakiyah Gaffoor.
“We want the Israeli’s to stop killing the civilians in Palestine, so Palestine can be free to the people it belongs to. The same as we had during the Apartheid days, we wanted our freedom. So we want the same thing for them,” says Zurina Calvert.
The main goal of the march was to call on the South African government to expel the Israeli ambassador, Arthur Lenk. Pro Palestinian activists believes cutting diplomatic ties with Israel is the first step.
“President Jacob Zuma said he will not expel the Israeli ambassador…its wrong,” said Nawawie Davids, expressing his disappointment with the decision.
The event was an all inclusive, multi cultural, multi-racial and interfaith march, showing unity on an important issue. People were vehemently protesting breaking out in prayer as they chanted on the streets, “Allah hu Akbar… Free Free Palestine”.
“We just have to make dua that the people of Palestine are free. And may Allah guide them and protect them in Palestine,” says Janap Hendricks. VOC