Planned mass action on Rondebosch Common, 27-29 January

Thanks to Teresa van den Berg for alerting me to this site about a planned occupation of Rondebosch Common next week. I wondered what the Anti Land Invasion Unit vans were doing there this afternoon!

From the website:

From the 27th until the 29th of January, communities will be converging on the iconic Rondebosch Commons next to the Red Cross Hospital to hold a People’s Land! Housing! and Jobs! Summit where we will discuss and develop a more radical people driven program for the proper integration of our cities and establishing the right of families to a basic income, jobs, economic opportunities, social mobility, housing, land and the right to the city.

By taking back the ‘commons’, we will not only be claiming our rights, but coming together to create a new space of action. We are outraged that we live in one of the most segregated, unequal, and inhospitible cities on Earth. On Rondebosch Commons, we will attempt to break free of our collective shackles and build another kind of city.

During the 3 days in which we will occupy the Commons, we will do the following:

  • Hold General Action Assemblies
  • Listen to testimonials from communities
  • Teach one another about different ways we can improve our lives
  • Develop ideas for mass actions regarding the issues of land, housing, jobs, services and community governance
  • Chart out the way forward

I think we all want a less segregated city but attacking one of the few safe public open spaces we have doesn’t seem a very effective way to achieve it. Especially for a group that also claims they want to “protect our mother earth and our environment, and safeguard our natural heritage for future generations.”

Anybody know more about this?


12 responses to “Planned mass action on Rondebosch Common, 27-29 January

  1. Yes – we’ve read about this planned event ,and we’re not really surprised that it’s arisen! Most likely it’s intended to re-focus our collective (largely privilaged?) minds on a most critical social issue. As we don’t want to see a permanent “invasion” of Rondebosch common (or any other designated open green space) we would urgently request that the government of the Western Cape inform us all of how they will address these People’s Land! Housing! and Jobs! issues, and when.
    Please forward this to our Ward Councillor/s.

  2. As a ratepayer who lives in the area, i am concerned about a gathering like this, being permitted, and approved, without consulting the ratepayers, in this protected open space. I have no objection to the protest, if it is held in an approved “area”, strictly monitored by law enforcement and it does not disrupt neighborhood activities. Especially as schools are close by, and
    there is no threats to passersby.

  3. I’ll certainly alert our councillor to this but would also encourage others to do likewise: his name is Matthew Kempthorne and his email address is, or the official council address is I agree with Sue that the issues involved, particularly housing, are critical — but I don’t envy the council their task in trying to provide housing to an ever-growing population. At least they’re doing moderately well at providing cheap, safe public transport, which is the single biggest obstacle for most people to finding jobs and participating fully in the life of the city.

  4. Last week’s Tatler had an article about this planned mass action. From what I remember of the article, on Friday people from wider areas will gather at the Athlone Stadium and at 2pm will begin a collective march to the Common to arrive there late afternoon where they will spend the next two days untill Sunday.
    I wonder what toilet provisions will be made?

  5. Teresa van den Berg

    Matthew Kempthorne said he would send out a press release tomorrow. Cape Talk is also monitoring the situation. Let’s hope everyone makes enough noise. Better to stop this thing fast. Did you know that the Common has over 200 different Fynbos species and that some of them are critically endangered?

  6. Like many others, I am very concerned about this planned meeting. I read in the ‘People’s post’ from this week that this meeting and march have not been approved by local authorities and is thus illegal. The article also stated that no extra policing provisions have been made for this. I certainly hope this is not the case. I will be emailing Mr Kempthorne today to raise my concerns and hope that others do the same.

  7. Hi all,

    I thought I’d better respond to your comments

    Firstly, we are not coming for a land invasion. We are attempting to hold a People’s Summit on the Common. But we are coming with our own trash bags and we are coming with intent to preserve the ecosystem on the Commons.

    It is unfortunate that the City is attempting to illegally prevent us from marching and from holding a Summit on the Common. We complied with all regulations in the Gatherings Act. Yet, based on a technicality of being a few minutes late, the City has refused to meet with us. We have tried time and again to set up meetings with the City to no consequence. This is an illegal attack by the City on our peaceful march. This is an attack on our democracy.

    I hope that you and others will come and support our right to use the Common – as the Common is for everyone right? Please put your fears aside. We are coming in peace. We are coming to demand that all Cape Townians are heard – not just the rate payers.

    Jared Sacks

    See statement below by the movement:

    Statement to the Press: 25 January 2012
    People’s Summit on Land, Housing & Jobs
    For more information contact: 0214477899

    On Friday 27 January, more than two thousand people are planning to march from their communities around the Cape. From as far away as Rocklands in Mitchell’s Plain to Gugulethu, from Bloekombos near Stellenbosch, to Bishop Lavis. When we finally converge on Rondebosch Common, we will hold a 3 day “occupation” and People’s Summit.

    Event A: Mass march of dozens of communities
    Date/Time: 27 January at 14h00
    Venue: Athlone Stadium to Rondebosch Commons

    Event B: People’s Land! Housing! and Jobs! Summit
    Starting: Friday the 27 of January at 17h00
    Ending: Sunday the 29 of January at 17h00
    Venue: Rondebosch Commons

    Tired of waiting for the government to remedy the inequalities and injustices that still impact so many lives negatively, our communities will be gathering to share our stories, and our ideas about what can be done to resolve some of the most pressing challenges we face, including rent arrears and evictions, the right to the city, segregation, and the poor and corrupt delivery of housing and basic services.

    The gathered participants plan to break into smaller groups for purposeful discussion, sharing of skills and knowledge, and generating ideas for future actions – with breaks for community meals, entertainment and other activities – in a way that is peaceful, non-political, and productive!

    Is it legal?

    Despite notifying the Council of the event in accordance with the Regulation of Gatherings Act and Section 17 of the Constitution, City representatives acted in bad faith by refusing to “authorise” the event. To ensure the safety of participants, our community leaders requested a meeting with City of Cape Town representatives. However, after arriving a bit late for the meeting, they were told that it had been called off because City representatives refused to meet with more than four of the organisers.

    As there are over 30 community and civil organisations taking part in the event, we had elected nine representatives. This number was deemed unacceptable by the City’s panel, even though the Gatherings Act does not provide for any such restrictions and puts the onus on government to ensure that the required meeting take place.

    Engaging with the City of Cape Town

    Since receiving a letter stating that a permit was being refused, organisers have attempted to follow up on the correspondence and set up another meeting with the City. However, the City has refused to engage with us and has responded by issuing “subtle threats” toward participants.

    According to the Gatherings Act, a march or event cannot be prohibited without City representatives first meeting with the organisers and consulting with them in good faith about their concerns. This legally required meeting has not taken place on account of the City’s refusal to meet with us. According to the legal advice we have received, it is clear that the City officials are intending on illegally banning our legal gathering. In light of what is being described as an “abuse of power and an attempt to criminalise our activity”, we intend to go ahead with the event as planned.

    It is unfortunate that an event that was initiated as a peaceful and productive collaboration between communities from all over the Cape Peninsula can now be expected to deteriorate into a clash between the police and those of us who will be attempting to exercise our right to gather, discuss and take action to fashion our on soliutions in our city. If we do not have the right to gather, then how can we say we have a Right to the City?

    An enormous achievement

    It is also unfortunate that thanks to the lack of engagement by the City, an already fragile coalition has been put under greater stress. The enormous achievement of our organisers in drawing together so many diverse groups and individuals, organisations and communities, to share our experiences, ideas and visions, has been undermined by the City’s draconian response. It seems that the government will do whatever it takes to sweep our voices back into the townships.

    Our plans for the summit

    During the 3 days in which we will occupy the Commons, we plan do the following:

    Hold General Action Assemblies
    Listen to testimonials from communities
    Teach one another about different ways we can improve our lives
    Develop ideas for mass actions regarding the issues of land, housing, jobs, services and community governance
    Chart out the way forward to improve our lives

    Unfortunately, the City’s antagonistic behaviour has put this exciting and constructive event in jeopardy. We have had to focus our energy towards attempting to re-engage with City officials and seek legal advice instead of planning the logistics of the event itself. With the likelihood that police will be tasked with stopping the marchers rather than protecting them (as in accordance with the Regulation of Gatherings Act), we believe that the City is undermining our struggles, our voices, and our desire to take control of our future. Our longing for a more equal and just society seems to be a threat to those who profit off our oppression

    A Call for Genuine Equality

    Given that South African cities have one of the highest Gini coefficients in the world (i.e. one of the widest gaps between rich and poor) and that socio-economic inequality is widely recognised as one of the most important factors that determine social problems as diverse as murder rates, obesity, drug abuse and teen pregnancy, wouldn’t it make more sense for the City to promote efforts within communities to address inequality? To support our efforts at self-empowerment rather than waiting for handouts?

    It is a sobering thought, that the “powers-that-be” have clearly shown they would rather shut down our efforts, rather than support them.

    More information:

    For our Guiding Principles of the Event see:, and see partial lists of the communities and organisations involved, as well as the

    For our Right to the City Framework see:

    To read a clear explanation of the Regulation of Gatherings Act, the legal role of police and the Council, see:

    For information on the Gini coefficient and other indicators of economic inequality, see:

    For resources about the effects of Socio-Economic Inequality, see:

    The following is an incomplete list of the communities and organisations participating in our summit:

    Hanover Park Civic Association
    Kraaifontein Backyarders Association
    Hout Bay Civic Association
    Cloetesville Backyarders Association
    Athlone Advice Office
    Bonteheuwel Environmental Forum
    People of the South
    Proudly Manenberg
    Proudly Mitchell’s Plain
    Proudly Stellenbosch
    Panati Estate Civic Association
    Leonsdale Community Association
    Ruyterwacht Tenants Committee
    Lavender Hill Civic Association
    Lavendar Hill Backyarders
    Zeal 4 Life Bonteheuwel
    Newfields Village
    Gugulethu Backyarders
    Institute for the Restoration of the Aborigines of South Africa
    Bishop Lavis Outreach Forum
    People’s Health Movement
    SANGOCO Western Cape
    Occupy Cape Town

    And many others…

  8. Pingback: Taking Back the Commons in Cape Town « radical africa

  9. Hey everyone, the best suggestion I can make to all residents of the area is to make sure you are at the common – that way, those of us who want to see some movement towards resolving the issues of our society (but without violence, or damaging the area) can have our voices heard. Although the organisers are committed to being peaceful & productive, there are naturally going to be those few troublemakers or more militant types… the best anyone can do is to be there and be a peaceful presense… please, take your friends, take a picnic, engage anyone who arrives in discussion, meet some of your fellow human beings, encourage them to take care of the land & clean up after themselves

  10. Pingback: Rondebosch Common: An occupation not a land invasion : News South Africa

  11. mparkbackyarders

    Were you not really concerned about the Fynbos? Why then did you call in the Caspirs to remove the poor from the Common?

    But mistake huh? Looks like you guys need to give the ecology of the Commons an apology.

  12. Teresa van den Berg

    If you stayed off the common the Caspirs would too. Do things right – meet legally and peacefully at less eco sensitive areas – the mayor will hear you and many of us would support you.

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