Jhb CBD chaos of yesterday13 February , 2014
Nothing says, “Don’t fuck with me” like walking down the road in body armour? 😉 This might be my second most favourite man-in-uniform look next to fire fighters.
I do not usually post anything of a political nature here, but this is kind of different because it was CHAOS, and it was right on my doorstep so to speak. I’m glad I got to see it first hand, it feels significant somehow – do you know what I mean? So I’ve decided to post it…but just to be clear, I don’t care who you vote for, so this is not that kind of post. This is for pure spectator value. 😉
I meant to post this yesterday already, but I’ve been having the darnedest time uploading videos from my phone. Oh well…here goes:
Yesterday was the DA’s Job march to Luthuli house. You wouldn’t have needed to be clairvoyant to suspect that there was going to be chaos with all the media coverage before and the last minute attempt at an interdict by the ANC, which was denied.
Due to the location of secret place (where I work) we often get ring side seats to any protests on this side of town, and yesterday it was no different. I’ve managed to upload a few of my favourite photos of the march going by, but the real action is in the video clips!
Just as the marchers passed us, a small group of ANC supporters, or if you prefer the way it’s being reported – people wearing ANC T-shirts – came round the back end of the court in what looked like an attempt to cut the marchers off from their transport when they were turned around at Rissik Street.
The police were really the rock stars of the day, somehow managing to keep the two groups separated – while dodging bricks and petrol bombs! I know some people have been asking why they didn’t disperse the big ANC crowd at Luthuli house or Beyers Naude’ square, instead of turning around the DA group, but tactically I think that what they did actually made a lot of sense. The majority of the armed with bricks people were neatly contained, imagine if they were dispersed and trouble could come from any direction?
Anyhoo, here are links to the video clips. One is of the marchers passing by, another of one of the stun grenades going off taken by my colleague, and the last one shows the petrol bomb thrown at the police in front of the court, taken by another colleague. (If you can’t open these clips, give it half an hour or so and try again – they don’t seem to be immediately available after I upload them for some reason?).
Our building’s security went on full lock down alert the moment they spotted the first yellow shirt coming round the corner! They locked us all in, even the smoking balconies were locked. Everyone from the first two floors were asked to move to higher ground so that they wouldn’t be visible from the street and staff were asked to move away from the west side of the building and stay clear of the windows.
Man alive! I really wanted to see what was going on but the security guard told me that if they saw any white faces there was going to be real trouble. I am perhaps too curious for my own good sometimes? Some of the people I work with got themselves worked up into a real state, one lady had a PTSD sort of attack, and the other was just looking for a good place to hide. I found the whole thing extremely fascinating…maybe it would have been more scary than fascinating if I was outside when the bricks started flying, but I felt pretty safe inside so I wasn’t too worried.
Even though the DA didn’t get to where they had hoped to go, I don’t think the march was a fail at all. There are a lot of interesting observations you can make from what happened yesterday. That’s a different sort of success, if that was what you were aiming for:
- No one got hurt – that’s always a good start
- From a party who sure likes to get their march on, the ANC were remarkable intolerant of someone else using a play from their books.
- The majority of the DA marchers were not white (some people are saying it was a rent-a-crowd, but those people looked really passionate about being there, so if they were then we are sitting on a gold mine of undiscovered actors here in SA). 20 years down the line from apartheid, you do kind of expect the colour thing not to play a big role anymore – but it’s just lovely to see it in action.
- The police really had their shit together on crowd control…and they looked good doing it too. 😉 Really can’t stress this enough – they were the rock stars of the day. I very rarely have anything positive to say about the police, so coming from me that should mean lots.
- There is a very flimsy lid on a hot-pot of unhappiness. The fact that it didn’t get ugly has much more to do with the police than with the people involved. If one little walk can cause so much commotion, then I think it’s fair to say that we might see more of this in the future if something doesn’t change drastically.
- The previous election was very involved with service delivery and especially public access to working toilets (I don’t think toilets have ever had as many newspaper headlines in their honour as then!)…I wonder what the button will be for this one? Maybe job creation. Maybe corruption? (Still no one has made any promises to me about installing waterproof traffic lights, but if anyone is reading this with some pull in that direction: THAT would drastically improve my quality of life on a day to day basis. It’s the difference between 40 minutes in traffic and 3 hours – one way!).
Today has been nowhere near as exciting at the office as yesterday, obviously.