‘Jou ma se bill’ – a protest experience, 2010

Posted on July 2, 2011

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‘Viva viva the people!’ screams the man on the microphone. ‘Viva!’ responds the crowd. A song is busy being sung in Xhosa that translates to ‘why are you scared?’ ‘Amandla!’ enthuses the speaker, standing on a platform on the back of a truck. ‘Awe to!’ scream the mob that mills around him.

CPUT was swarming when we arrived at last. The wind reflected the unrest. We were greeted by the sound of clapping and singing and voices on loudspeaker. People of all colour make up the crowd; blacks, whites and all those in between. Banners read; ‘what are you hiding?’ ‘Waarheid maar kry’  ‘No secrets.’  ‘Nquanda u are a skelm mense’  ‘Let the truth be told’  ‘Jou ma se secret’amongst many others.

Us curious journalism students had found ourselves there by following a handful of passionate protestors – a group made up of coloured women in their middle age, probably most of them mothers and half wearing dokkie. After receiving directions from a white woman we had encountered along the way (whom apparently had contacts at The World Aids Organization) we headed for the CPUT campus. Up until then we had been running around Cape Town like headless chickens, frantically searching for The Secrecy Bill protest march, which was supposed to leave from the Grand Parade at 9:30 AM, but which we had found worrying mob-free. 

‘I want to gain more information,’ Aphiwe, a black teenager, tells me. Him and Linda, both residents of Delft, are standing on the outskirts of the crowd apprehensively holding a banner that reads: LET TRUTH OUT. ‘They just gave me the card and they say ‘come!’,’ he explains.

‘They’ are Right2Know, a nation-wide coalition of people and organisations opposed to the Protection of Information Bill and I manage to chat to representative Alfonzo as he is busy handing out leaflets and stickers to crowd members. ‘We went to various communities, informing and mobilizing the people,’ he says. ‘We distributed flyers around the whole peninsula in their own mother tongue so that they can all understand what is happening.’

Ilan has taken the morning off school to be a part of the protest.  ‘I am actually missing 2 tests,’ says the grade 11 Jewish boy. ‘ I am here to promote equality as we seem to be regressing to that of Apartheid. I think it’s important I stand against this as a South African, after all we have gone through as a country.’

Rastas Brent Thomas and Johan October had a lot to say regarding this new Secrecy Bill: ‘We are unhappy. We don’t have rights and we are not told about things. The United Nations resolution 169 states that the indigenous people have the right to their ancestral land. Nobody implements this in SA and we the people don’t even know about it! The Khoi people are the indigenous people of SA, they are even presented as such on the badge of the country.

‘The government protect the national flower and the national animals, but what about the national people?’

The truck begins to move toward its final destination, Parliament, but stops again just short of the District 6 Café (104 darling street).  Next they had short inputs from the community leaders. A big South African flag is released into the sky, soaring away quickly on the wind the crowd cheers.

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