‘She shook her tambourine while her friend shouted, reminding everyone that this was a protest, not a Hell’s Angels concert. She was referring to the bikers from different clubs who pitched up with a sense of spirit forming an improvised grid around Parliament, approaching from every angle, their superbike engines just about the only spirit at Parliament at the time.
Everyone else stood peacefully around, docile placards in hand, some came with their kids, some came with their dogs and many of them came with the right shoes – everyone in support of the same thing. There was confusion and a lack of leadership though. The scene was reminiscent of a street fair or market, with consumers hanging about, waiting for the food trucks to show up. At the time of writing the DA had not arrived. A string of broken, unpopular chants hanging in the air, just a whisper, here and there.
Further down on Roeland Street, as I started to walk against the crowd, the colours started to change. The crowd was more representative, the protest songs sung in vernacular accompanied by a few vuvuzelas and toi-toiing. For all the criticism against this being a protest hijacked by white people, there was a fair amount of black, coloured and Indian locals. Still, there was an obvious lack of mobilisation from the outskirts of the city. No buses bring people in here. It seems clear that the middle class march, while the working class work. Most of the stores were closed though, I wonder if they’re still getting paid? Maybe that’s irrelevant today although I don’t think so.
No riot police, no barbed wire, and no SAPS brigade. Only the odd traffic department vehicle dotted here and there. The crowd grew and so did the selfie posts. There were more laser cut placards than on the Superbalist décor page. I hope they will be donated afterwards for all the protests to come.
“Thanks for pitching up guys”, “How was that for you?”, “It got too full so we came here”. These are the sentences passed about over glasses of Castle and shots of celebration at Percy’s Tavern on Buitenkant Street. Before stopping here to write, we tried the Kimberley Hotel. One of the only other places open in the area today. That’s where the bikers gathered. It’s a party. It was packed out there and it appeared that people have had enough. The weekend started with a pub lunch, a cold beer and a discussion of where the best pick-up point for an Uber would be. Word on the streets was that even the crowds outside Parliament had started dispersing. It was just after 1pm. People in Jo’burg, Pretoria and Durban had been participating since 8 in the morning. Cape Town got properly started at about 10 or 11am. They can’t blame the wind anymore. It was really not that bad.
In Cape Town, once the visuals have been captured and the patriotic pictures have been shared, I suspect the beaches on the West Coast will have a busy day.’