Statement from Matthew Kempthorne

Our ward councillor Matthew Kempthorne issued this statement last night:

Rondebosch Common Event

Late last year the RNW (Rosebank Neighbourhood Watch) and a number of other roleplayers alerted the City that a gathering was being planned for Rondebosch Common. Since then both SAPS and the City have been monitoring the situation.

An application was made to the City on January 13th for a gathering at Rondebosch Common this coming weekend, in terms of the nationally prescribed Gatherings Act. The organisers where invited to attend a meeting at the Civic Centre on 19th January at 12pm, in order for negotiations to take place concerning the application. The representatives failed to arrive by 12:35 and the meeting was adjourned.

A letter was sent on to the organisers on 19 January 2012 informing them that permission had not been granted for the march and/or gathering. No additional applications have been submitted.

No safety plan has been lodged with the South African Police Services (SAPS) for the proposed march (which is a legal requirement for events like this).

Any march or gathering will be an illegal gathering in terms of National regulations (Gatherings Act No 295 of 1993) and any persons taking part can face criminal prosecution.

The SAPS and the City are now preparing for the possibility of an illegal gathering and are taking all precautions to manage the situation. The SAPS will take the lead in monitoring and managing the situation and City law enforcement will assist and support.

There will be a heightened SAPS and law enforcement presence in the area from Thursday.

In the event that a gathering goes ahead members of the community are requested to alert the SAPS and allow them to manage the situation.

Please call me direct for any additional information on 084 681 0012.

Cllr Matthew Kempthorne


One response to “Statement from Matthew Kempthorne

  1. Dear Matthew,

    I thought I’d better respond to your statement.

    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. We are coming peacefully to exercise our rights as citizens of this country.

    You are wrong to say that our gathering is illegal. This is based on an incorrect reading of the Constitution and the Gatherings Act.

    It is unfortunate that you and the City are attempting to illegally prevent us from marching and from holding a Summit on the Common. We have actually 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. However, the Gatherings Act actually places the onus of making such a meeting happen on the City (not on the organisers).

    This is an illegal attack by the City on our peaceful march. This is an attack on our democracy. Just as the people of Rondebosch have a right to the Common, so do we.

    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…

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