It’s been a glorious summer in Cape Town. The heatwave had one and all at swimming pools and beaches all over the Cape. Long Street was packed with clubbers and tourists from all over the world. Drinks flowed freely: Hennessy, Bacardi, Hunters, Carling, you name it. Sadly, it was spoiled by talk of our beloved province being racist. Leader of the opposition, Helen Zille, wasted no time in dismissing nay-sayers as professional blacks and that put an end to the claptrap. Sort of.

But it seems that some people did not get the message. They insisted on drawing our attention to the plight of shack dwellers and backyard residents of the Cape Flats townships, from Khayelitsha and Blikkiesdorp to Bishop Lavis. Their target: Rondebosch Common. They had planned to occupy Rondebosch Common, a space open to all who reside in the suburb, where freestanding properties often sell for anything from R1.3-million to R8-million — and more — depending on the market.

The Cape Times reports that Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille wasted no time in calling would-be protesters “agents of destruction” through its invasion of “a peaceful community of students, retirees, young and old professionals of all races, men and women”.

Needless to say, the exercise was nipped in the bud and protesters were arrested. Baseless allegations of police brutality and heavy-handedness were, no doubt, made by those with an inflated sense of the significance of their constitutional rights. Furthermore, in an effort to explain the low turn-out at Rondebosch Common, the protesters allege that they were accosted by police in the townships before they could get to the picturesque Rondebosch location.

Meanwhile, the DA Students Organisation (DASO) published posters of topless inter-racial heterosexual and homosexual couples in suggestive embraces with the tag line, “In OUR future, you wouldn’t look twice.” Certainly, we should not look twice. It is about time that DA youth realised that the Immorality Act was scrapped. Well done to DASO for raising this contentious issue.

The sexy posters made the news both in print and online media — certainly a great deal more than Occupy Rondebosch Common, which may have made TV news, but did not feature on any of the major news sites significantly.

What can we learn from this? Cape Town’s professional blacks who complain about racism and inequality in the city should know their place:

  1. You cannot stage a protest when high property values are at stake and where private poolside soirées and yoga sessions are bound to be disturbed by noisy chanting and annoying slogans that call for the actual delivery of election promises
  2. Protests and grumblings are best staged in the townships, where they can be contained or ignored. That’s why Verwoerd and his colleagues designed them in the first place
  3. Forbidden topics, such as sex across the Colour Bar (which is not located in Long Street, I am told), is far more newsworthy than poor people’s struggles with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  4. Poverty is only sexy when it is framed for a fashion photo shoot, or for the album cover of a trendy punk-rock band or the exotic, postmodern marketing of Die Antwoord
  5. If you defy democratically elected leaders of the ruling party and the official opposition, you cannot expect to invoke talk of constitutional rights to free assembly in public spaces, free speech, freedom of movement or freedom from police brutality and harassment. After all, when you vote for national and provincial leaders, you are giving them a blank cheque. Live with it
  6. Don’t even try to invoke solidarity with American protesters by using the verb “occupy”. As any Republican will tell you, those people should just get jobs instead of expecting handouts from the hard-working rich, who deserve every perk they have earned. Professional blacks need to work hard if they want to get to Rondebosch. It is a free market, after all


Adam Haupt

Adam Haupt

Adam Haupt writes about film, media, culture and copyright law. He is an Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town and is the author of Stealing Empire: P2P, Intellectual Property and Hip-Hop...

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