The South African Police today used water canons to disperse peaceful protesters from the restaurant industry – one of Cape Town’s most vital sectors – outside parliament, a move condemned by the Democratic Alliance, which has accused President Cyril Rampahosa of “killing” thousands of restaurants and ruining people’s lives “for nothing.”
In a statement, DA MPs Natasha Mazzoni and Manny De Freitas, who were at the protest in support, said the party condemned the actions by the police.
“Protesters gathered at Parliament to hand over a petition, as they are constitutionally allowed to do, and which we as Members of Parliament are constitutionally obliged to accept.
“However, the SAPS decided to overreact and used water cannons to disperse peaceful protesters, consequently injuring a few. The force of the water cannons has also subsequently caused damage to private property.”
The DA would be be laying criminal charges, the statement said.
“You are killing thousands of restaurants and ruining people’s lives for nothing, President Ramaphosa,” the DA said.
Citizens assembling peacefully to protest the shutdown of their livelihoods and loss of their jobs are water-cannoned, stun-grenaded and treated like criminals by the very government that has asked them to sacrifice so much! pic.twitter.com/cAFaPcX34f
— John Steenhuisen MP (@jsteenhuisen) July 24, 2020
The party said if the government did not rescind the alcohol sales ban and lift the 9pm curfew, restaurants could not operate. Many had already closed down. For every one person working in a restaurant there were dozens more who worked to supply fresh produce, equipment, crockery, laundry services, cleaning services, security and transport. Hundreds of thousands of people could lose their livelihoods.
“Thousands more (restaurants) face imminent closure if government doesn’t come to its senses and do away with regulations that have nothing to do with fighting the threat of COVID-19.
“The hospitality sector is a critical part of our country’s economy, and particularly here in the Western Cape. South Africa’s unique and exceptional food and drink is part of our identity, and a big reason for visitors choosing to come here. Killing off this crucial sector through regulations based on bad science, secret science or even no science at all would be nothing less than criminal.
Police have flooded a local internet café with a water cannon in Buitenkant street while dispersing peaceful protesters calling on government to open up the hospitality sector.
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) July 24, 2020
“If restaurants follow sensible protocols, they are no more dangerous than any other business or public transport that is currently allowed to operate.
“But this means lifting the curfew and allowing the sale of alcohol. There is no way that kitchen and waiting staff can return home after an evening dinner shift and do so by 9pm. There is also little hope of restaurants breaking even, let alone turning a profit, if they are not allowed to serve alcohol with meals.
“Banning the sale of alcohol because a small minority of people abuse it is like banning cars from the road because some drivers are reckless. You wouldn’t do the latter, so why do the former?
“It is incomprehensible that the ANC government under President Cyril Ramaphosa is steering us willingly towards this economic crisis. They have had so many opportunities to admit that their lockdown was an unmitigated disaster and make a u-turn, and yet they simply cannot muster the will to do so. With the hospitality sector on its knees, this is yet another such an opportunity. For once in your term of presidency, do the right thing by the people of South Africa, President Ramaphosa.”