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Smith: Gatvol Capetonian driving wedge between black, coloured & white residents

Roads were barricaded and the City of Cape Town's instituting a civil claim of R1.5m to recover the cost of damage to infrastructure.

Total shutdown protests on Kommetjie Road on 8 August 2019. Picture: Kevin Brandt/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Gatvol Capetonian group on Thursday organised a shutdown in protest against a shortage of social housing in areas including Grassy Park and Mitchells Plain.

Roads were barricaded and the City of Cape Town's instituting a civil claim of R1.5m to recover the cost of damage to infrastructure.

"We're entirely in support of people's right to protest. I personally said I support any shutdown pertaining to the state of policing and I even said I would join them, on condition there's no damage to infrastructure and no blockading of roads," said Cape Town MMC for Safety and Security, JP Smith.

He says the movement made no effort to engage with the City ahead of the protest, driving the campaign on social media and through radio interviews.

"The mayor attempted repeatedly to call one of the organisers and speak to them, but they didn't return his call or engage him at all."

Responding to callers' allegations that the City is more aggressive in pursuing legal action against Gatvol Capetonians than people organising civil action in other areas like Philippi, Smith says with these protests there is often not a clear leader to hold accountable.

He also contends that the narrative of the group is a racial one.

"The cause is committed to driving a wedge between black and coloured and white residents and utterances in the past have been made that black people needed to be removed from the province, so there is an aggressive racist undertone to the movement."

Listen to the audio below for more.

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