A guide to protests on 7 April 2017

6 min read
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(Image credit: Ihsaan Haffejee)

The political situation in South Africa has come to a head for many citizens. Friday is called a day of action, and there will be a range of protests and marches across the nation. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re looking to get involved.

Why are people protesting?

This is a bit of a tricky situation at the moment and leading to some fracturing of causes. When there were protests about service delivery or #FeesMustFall, many affluent South Africans made comments such as “I agree with the cause but not their methods”. Now, the problems are seen are more “white”. President Zuma sacked the respected Pravin Gordhan and the new Finance Minister seemingly approved the nuclear deal; soon thereafter South Africa was downgraded to junk status the Rand has depreciated. While these are serious economic issues that will impact the whole country, there are some concerns and frustrations from various groups about the call for unity against Zuma’s actions. Where was outrage and calls for unity for protests about lack of toilets, or exorbitant university fees, or forced hair treatments for black girls at a Pretoria school? These are worthwhile critcisms – and it makes sense for many to want to distance themselves from these planned marches.

7 April is a call to action for many South Africans, and protests are important for raising awareness and making a group’s voice heard. By assembling en masse, citizens can show just how many people are affected by government decisions and force policy makers to listen and change. However, if you plan to march for this cause, you may want to consider your expectations for other marchers, and let this be a first step towards political activism across a spectrum of causes.

How to prepare for a protest/march

For some of you, this won’t be your first protest march. Perhaps you are old enough to have marched against the Apartheid regime, or you might have taken part in protests such as #FeesMustFall. If this is your first time going out and protesting, here is some practical advice:

  • Wear sunscreen. No, this isn’t a joke. You will be outside in the sun during the hottest parts of the day. According to the Weather Underground, the weather in Gauteng will be cloudy and sometimes stormy, but that doesn’t mean you might not be exposed to more sun during the protest than your skin has seen in a while. So put on sunscreen in the morning so that you don’t have to worry about it. This is particularly important for those of you in Cape Town, where weather is expected to be sunny and windy, a combination that is notorious for causing sunburns.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. This should be obvious, but this isn’t a fashion event. Wear functional clothing that you can conceivably march in for long distances and time periods. Your flip flops might be comfy for a trip around the shops, but you’ll probably be happier in socks and shoes during an event like this.
  • Bring water, some portable snacks and anything else you might need to consume for the day. With the city pretty much shutting down for the day, who knows where you’ll be able to buy lunch, let alone a drink.
  • Stay in touch with your friends and keep people updated about your location throughout the day. it can also be useful to save Right2Know contact details on your phone in the event that you need community or legal support.
  • Follow all instructions from police and march officials. While legal marches are allowed, certain community events are relying on your right to congregate in groups of 15, 100 meters apart. If your group surges beyond those numbers, you may be requested to dissipate or could face arrest for illegal demonstration.

Where can I march to protest?

There have been so many Whatsapp messages going around with various march proposals, it can be hard to keep track. Thanks to a particularly useful reddit board from NAG hardware wizard Wesley Fick, we have this information on protests in every major city. Please be aware of the type of demonstration you’re participating in as many community protests will have limitations regarding crowd size and actions.

Marches in Bloemfontein

  • [DA organized] 11:30 – Meet at Charlotte Maxeke Street for Gathering at Hoffman Square

Marches in Cape Town

  • [Community organized] 7:30-10 – Line Racecourse Road and Otto Du Pleases Drive. Dress in black.
  • [DA organized] 11:30 – Meet at Darling Street CBD Cape Town for gathering at City Hall
  • [OUTA organized] 12 – Gather outside Parliament

Marches in Durban

  • [Community organized] 12-2 – Durban Road and Wille van Schoor Ave to make a human chain in a peaceful show of unity against Zuma. Wear black, bring your SA flag.
  • [DA organized] 10 – Circus Site, Cnr Argyle and M4 for march to Amphitheatre in front of Elangeni Hotel

Marches in the Eastern Cape

  • [DA organized] There are 21 at last count, so please just check here to find one in your relevant city/town.

Marches in Johannesburg

  • [Community organized] 6:30 for 7 – Cnr Beyers Naude and Preller Streets, Roosevelt Park for a peaceful picket protest
  • [Community organized 6:30 – 7:45 and 4pm onwards – Stand in protest on the bridge over Klipriver Drive (by Mall of the South). Non-political, non-racial protest.
  • [DA organized] 10 – meet at Westgate Transport Hub (Corner of Anderson Street and Pat Math Busway) for march to Mary Fitzgerald Square

Marches in Kimberley

  • [DA organized] 9:30 – Perseverance College, Barkley Road, Homestead for gathering at Perseverance College

Marches in Matlosana

  • [DA organized] 10 – Meet at Matlosana Recreational Centre, Goue Weg, Pienaarsdorp for gathering at Matlosana Stadium

Marches in Nelspruit

  • [DA organized] 11 – Car R40 and Samora Machel Rd (Nex to Pick ‘n Pay) for march to Nelspruit Rugby Club

Marches in Pretoria

  • [OUTA organized] 10 – Meet at Church Square, march to Union Buildings at 12
  • [Save SA organized] 12 – Meet at Church Square, march to Union Buildings along Paul Kruger, Madiba and then straight to South Lawns.

Marches in Welkom

  • [DA organized] 10 – Meet at 319 Stateway for gathering at municipal offices

Whatever your thoughts on the current political climate locally, be aware of the marches taking place in your area and plan your day accordingly. Even if you aren’t interested in going out to protest, you could face difficulties getting to work or going about your normal daily routine, so please be aware and stay safe. If you have details of any other protest actions planned for the day, please feel free to leave the information in the comments below and we will update this article accordingly.

Last Updated: April 6, 2017

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Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!

  • Grant [_G_] Hancock

    Let’s hope there is strong support for all these protest marches !

  • Original Heretic

    I hope that these protests remain peaceful.
    But I also hope that it makes it difference.
    Politicians need to learn that their power comes from the people. Those who lose sight of that need to be put in their place.

    • Skittle

      “The MK Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) in KwaZulu-Natal has promised to send 600 of its “combat-ready” members to Luthuli House in Johannesburg to defend the ANC headquarters against what it calls enemy forces.” – IOL

      • Original Heretic

        So are we now living in a bona fide dictatorship? If we actively protest, we die?

      • MonsterCheddar

        So the ANC regards South Africans who don’t agree with them as enemies? mmmm.

        Methinks people should open their eyes.

      • MonsterCheddar

        Also, “combat ready” implies that these idiots are armed.

        If so, are the weapons legal? Are they as a group legal?

        And is this a. An act of terrorism if their weaponry is illegal?

        Or b. A secret army the government/ANC is hiding from everyone?

      • Lu

        And ANCYL said the will “Deal with” anyone marching against the ANC.

      • HairyEwok

        When the people living in their own country becomes the “enemy”

  • Hammersteyn

    Hopefully this will encourage people to vote instead of abstaining. Way to many of those

  • MonsterCheddar

    “Wear comfortable shoes. This should be obvious, but this isn’t a fashion event”

    Also to be able to outrun those Police Nyalas. XD

    “Bring water”

    Water to wash the pepper spray and smoke grenade crap out of your eyes.

    • Hammersteyn

      Outrun the cops? Bah, people can out walk most of them

    • Sageville

      Pepsi dood, bring Pepsi…

      • HairyEwok

        YES! Pepsi Max fixes all.

        • Captain JJ

          Take my upvote!

  • Captain JJ

    Will CH be running tomorrow or also off for the sake of halting the economy? 😛

    • We all telecommute. Some will be protesting. Some won’t.

      • Captain JJ

        Oh, okay. Cool. I’ll be at work unfortunately, but protesting in spirit.
        I started my comment in jest, but I was secretly hoping someone would answer 😀

  • Skittle

    “The MK Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) in KwaZulu-Natal has promised to send 600 of its “combat-ready” members to Luthuli House in Johannesburg to defend the ANC headquarters against what it calls enemy forces.” – IOL

    Try keep it peaceful guys

  • So here’s the thing.

    100% agree that some people are only now waking up and realizing the need to protest and I cannot blame some folk for questioning these people’s motives.

    When SASSA was going arse up did all these people march? No
    When FeesMustFall was hotting up did these people march? No
    Etc.

    BUT, just because people are only coming around now doesn’t mean that people should now distance themselves from this. There is a golden opportunity for people who never protest and never have needed to in their lives, to see why it’s so important. Maybe now people will wake up and see that they should be fighting not only against silly choices in cabinet reshuffles but in standing up for the poor where it counts.

    The next time a SASSA issue rolls around maybe now people who never lifted a finger before will actually consider doing something. It doesn’t even need to be protesting. It could be getting the legal wheels rolling, it could be reaching out en-masse to help the people affected.
    The point is, if everyone can come together in a united cause then maybe going forward people will remain united.

    I am not saying protest and if you do please, keep it legal, keep it to the allowed routes, keep it safe and do not break the law. But don’t go out there protesting for yourself. Stand up with others in mind. Remembering that the poor suffer this more than most of us. The rich have enough money to weather the storm. The middle class have jobs to keep them floating.

    But the poor will be affected the worst as they lose their ability to make money. Middle class won’t hire people as domestics, garden services etc; as we try to tighten belts. The bread and butter of the poor are these jobs. Remember these people. Keep that in mind as you march.

    That is what you are marching for. Those people are who you should care about and those people are who we are meant to try protect each time choices are made that will negatively affect them in our economy.

    • Traditional “tl;dr”

      *goes back to read wall of text

    • Captain JJ

      fk me, I need coffee before I start reading this… brb

    • MonsterCheddar

      tl;dr

      • Hammersteyn

        My scrolling finger cramped

        • MonsterCheddar

          I feel your pain.

    • Zoe Hawkins

      agree! i hope this is the first step for many on a road of political activism, that the next time there is a cause they join in solidarity. Also, most middle class and wealthy SAffers I know are talking about emigration without realizing that those who will be hit hardest by economic downturn don’t even have that option.

      • miaau

        Every time there is bad news, my wife talks about our passports.

        Emigrating, though, is not easy.

      • Lu

        Thing is, those hit hardest are for the majority those who put the country in this position.
        Saying “Where were you with FeesMustFall/SASSA” is bigoted, as FeesMustFall is against my beliefs, and those dependant on grants make up part of the lower class (financially) citizens that voted the ruling party into power.

        • miaau

          Not an easy situation, certainly.

          the big issue here is the divides between ecomomic classes.

          I get paid, by the SA norm, a fair amount. I have no problem with that. It is the gap between what executives get paid and the common worker gets paid. That gap is HUGE and growing every year. And yes, I know all the arguments to support high executive pay, I am not arguing pay difference.

          All I am saying is that the salary gaps like that are not sustainable. And the fix? A long term fix, bloody good education. If I get one more matriculant in my office, or university student, that cannot even write a simple letter or write a report without huge grammar and spelling issues…… My wife used to be a school teacher and even in her 10 years doing that she saw a decline of the material. When I did matric, mid 90’s, I left school knowing more than the average person does now. How can we expect people to contribute to our economy if the basic education fails them?

          • Lu

            Exactly.
            Basic education is pathetic at the moment. Its more important that the children pass than actually learn anything (resulting in the atrocious math pass mark).
            Those children grow up pretty much uneducated, with the mentality that you don’t have to work hard, just do the minimum to get by.
            Then they hit the real world, and throw their toys out of the cot because no one wants to employ them, and they cant study for free at private institutions.
            And then, even though they can’t afford to, they go and have children, who end up just like them because they can’t afford to send them to good schools.
            All the while those of us that worked hard to get where we are now are labeled as the enemy – even though the money they’re getting for doing nothing comes from our taxes.

          • miaau

            Yes, I want this country, a place I love, to be a country of equals, where economy is shared based on merit and I see a proper, grounded, education as a required step.

            I have heard people talk about salary caps to try and curb this, but that, even if it can be implemented (I might be pissy about it……) is a stop gap solution at best.

          • Lu

            Yeah. The more educated people are the less fighting over petty things and more focus on finding solutions.

          • miaau

            Another point: My wife worked at several schools, public and private, was even acting HOD at one.

            She looks at the 6 schools she worked at, some only for a few months, and she would say that she would allow our children to go to a certain very well know boys school, where the education was of an excellent standard, far higher in matric than the other schools she worked at. BUT we only have girls.

            So, either expensive private schools OR home schooling (not dirt cheap, must buy materials and so on – wife wants Cambridge syllabus). Home schooling is looking ok now, as a result of social media, where the home schooled kids get together for shared activities, run by the parents.

            So, while I want the education system fixed, I do not want my young children to go through it, unless it makes a dramatic recovery in the next 3 years. I still, as every parent, want the best for my children, at all times.

          • Lu

            I did a year of homeschooling, but due to family troubles I had to teach myself so it didn’t work out too well. The fact that your wife has so much experience teaching actually makes it a viable option.

          • Cat

            The economic divide is like that across the Capitalist world, it will not change.

            The next issue with regards to education is that when you lower the standards to allow more people to pass you will inevitably have a greater uneducated population. Easier to control with propaganda but detrimental to economic activities & production.

            So you see they are both tied together but mass looting, corruption & lawlessness is then also compounding the situation & this is where we are finding ourselves today.

            Will a few marches change anything, probably not. The whole system is crumbling day by day & the plasters are springing a leak everywhere just before the floodgates open.

      • miaau

        Yeah, so there I was yesterday explaining to a junior member of staff that the junk status downgrade will effect home-loans and car repayments and all that, plus the effect on the general price of goods. He asked a very pointed question: So, effectively, I will be hurt by this AFTER the poor people, because I have more means at my disposable? Yes, yes, I will.

      • I sure as hell don’t have that option – and I’m way more privileged than most of the country. If things take a turn for the worse, I’m going to have to sell my home – but I should still be able to eat.

    • Sageville

      This is called “Whataboutery” – and it’s garbage logic to point out perceived hypocrisy.

      You can “Whatabout” anything, making it a very useful when defending the indefensible.

      “People will starve without SASSA grants!” -> “Oh really, where was your outrage during apartheid!” (You can’t argue that sort of shit).

      My point is, no matter what your opinion or position is about the marches, someone will tell you you’re wrong (Cred to @ZombieGamer) – So fuck em, do or don’t do your thing, but please don’t be swayed by the bullshit whataboutery.

      • Lu

        But what about a pointed stick?

    • Magoo

      If we had to march every time the ANC f**ks up we would never sit down again.

      • Hammersteyn

        We’d walk more than the Israelites

    • Hammersteyn

      And here’s another thing…. 7 paragraphs 😛

    • Jim of the Banana

      I get where you’re coming from, but….

      a) I didn’t and still don’t agree with FeesMustFall. I think free education is a pipe dream, and I don’t believe that everyone SHOULD go to university.
      b) I don’t believe in social grants. Sure, it’s a harsh stance to have given the historical realities of this continent, but I’ve always held the belief that social entitlements only leads to more entitlements. If you can’t feed your kids, you shouldn’t have kids and you shouldn’t expect the rest of the country to care for your kids.
      c) Poor people make me uncomfortable. The best place to put the impoverished is behind a wall… preferably far away, where no one can see them. Better yet… let them work in the mines or on farms… Just keep them out of sight!
      d) I’m trolling… you should know better by now! Jim agrees with you, Raptor!

  • Sageville

    According to unreliable sources:

    The EFF will be marching to ANCYL headquarters…. I’d avoid this in real life, but will be totally watching this on twitter….

    • HairyEwok

      That’s going to be the most aggressive protest out of all of them happening in SA.

  • Jim of the Banana

    I’m proud of my fellow South Africans. They came out in full force! You get a thumbs up from me!