A Tale of Five Cities – Summary of Day One of the SA Anti-Capitalist City Occupations

Posted: June 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

A Tale of Five Cities – Summary of Day One of the South African Anti-Capitalist City Occupations



1. East London

Five determined souls later to be six stood underneath their beloved Biko Statue and infront of the Imperialists Old Shack. The small group shouted their lungs out for an hour and a half while curious passers by looked on.



Thanks to Chloe Menteath for updates.

2. Grahamstown

The initial group of 20  Rhodes University students gathered at the Botanical Gardens at 10am.  After having distributed T-shirts they made their way down to High Street to meet the masses (Unemployed People’s Movement comrades and many others). As they walked down they chanted “Enough is Enough. We want our country back”. While they walked down High Street, they distributed pamphlets which contained information about why the demonstration were happening and why it was necessary.

When they reached the crowd gathered at Cathedral (about 30-40 people) they all merged and sang protest songs for about an hour. Together we marched up and down high street and the louder we sang, the more people from the street joined. People of all races.

On their return to the cathedral, the floor was opened up to the crowd to share their grievances. People from Phaphamani, Vukani and other locations spoke mainly about their need for 3 essentials: electricity, water and housing.

They then made their way to the Makana Municipal buildings and chanted “Amandla, ngawethu! Amanga ngawabo!” Richard Pithouse and Ayanda Kota addressed the crowd and spoke about how although the government officials were not present, they will hear of the events of today. It was more of a symbolic gesture. As was broadcasted, Ayanda Kota and some UPM comrades went into the municipal buildings and threw shit inside to protest the bucket system.

After that activity, the police came and asked us the crowd to leave.



Grahamstown occupiers throw buckets of shit at the entrance of Municipality and shout “This is not our shit” in protest of the one bucket system where families are given a bucket to share instead of a toilet or plumbing.

Thanks to Mbali Baduza for updates

3. Durban:

Durban had  a steady flow of occupiers through the day, and had some really interesting discussions, and the occupiers had the opportunity to inform passers by about the movement. There were some natural arguments about what the movement is directed towards, but a general consensus that diversity should accommodated, and that the movement is about acknowledging a problem. Things were peaceful and spirits were high for the most part. Around 50 people occupied. Discussions were had about the possibility of making it a weekly occurrence into the future and seeking greater cooperation with other civil society groups and grassroot movements. There were children, guitarists and a slam poet.



Thanks to Sarah dawson for updates

4. Cape Town:

Around 200 attended with people coming and going throughout the day. A hot speaker was set up and speeches were given from occupiers from various backgrounds and ideologies.  Police mingled past but not tried anything. City police stopped people bringing a trailer in and tried to tell a crafter not to sell his wire beaded flowers but the occupiers insisted he be allowed to stay. Was a pretty chilled vibe. At the occupation were members of community organizations from Blikiesdorp and Manenburg, Zeitgesters, Anarchists, and Blackwash members amongst others.


Great collection of inspirational speeches at Day 1 of Occupy Cape Town – By Herbert Noodledrop


– By Jessica Schnehage


– By Christoff Smuts


– By Jodi Allemeier

The Red & Black of Anarchism flying high in front of Parliament – By Jodi Ⓥ Allemeier

Thanks to Jodi Allemeir for updates

5. Johannesburg:

Around a hundred occupiers gathered outside the JSE and gave speeches over a microphone claiming to be of the 99% and they they were very angry with the corporates and the politicians. Police later told the protesters they had to disperse or face arrest. There were problems related to the retreat point also at which point the occupiers decided to disperse and return another day. In attendance were people from Soweto and Thembelihle, the UDF had a prominent presence as well as Zeitgesters as well as Blackwash.




Security Guard apprehending people trying to put up a banner outside Johannesburg Stock Exchange – By Aleksandar Bulovic


– By Aleksandar Bulovic



1. The first day generated a lot of heated debates, most prominent among them being: Liberal pacifist attitudes towards the economic problem vs. Radical attitudes. Peaceful demonstration vs. Civil disobedience.

2. A lot of understandable dissapointment came from potential Johannesburg occupiers who planned to arrive later only to find that the initial group had not stood their ground and decided to disperse. It should be noted also that Johannesburg was the only occupation among the five cities ordered to disperse.

3. It is my opinion that a manifesto, a list of demands etc is not a priority at this stage and that the general and broad anti-capitalist theme of the occupations continue until the occupiers presence become more representative of the people of South Africa.

4. There is no such thing as a failure. Day one was never going to be the pinnacle but only the tester. It was a success.

5. Going forward my opinion is that a two pronged approach should be taken: First, people should continue going day by day on their own individual and group inititiative to keep the momentum up. This has happened on the second day already in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg and is planned for the third day as well. Secondly a longer term approach should be taken to involve as many grassroot movements as possible especially township and poor community groups. A second big D-Day should then be called towards the end of the year or early 2012 and simultaneous occupations of the cities as well as the townships/ poor communities should be held. Then real solidarity can be tested between the middle class and the poor. Some organisers like the ones in Durban have already started on these initiatives.

6. I was dissapointed to find that the creator of http://www.occupysa.org has closed his site for personal reasons. Whoever is interested among online admins is welcome to use our site https://takebacksa.wordpress.com to keep promoting the SA occupations.


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