Minstrel celebrations cut short

Minstrel troupes marching in Bo-Kaap have often clashed with residents wanting some rest, but on Saturday the performers found themselves unable to enter the area as they did not have a permit.

After concluding the final day at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday February 4, minstrel troupes headed to Bo-Kaap to show off their silverware, only to be greeted by a large contingent of law enforcement agencies, who stopped their celebration parade.

However, the authorities were well within their rights, as the City of Cape Town confirmed that the “minstrel troupes did not submit an application for a permit to march through the Bo-Kaap”.

The City’s executive director for safety and security; and social services, Richard Bosman, said event organisers need to meet the requirements as stipulated in the City’s Events By-law and Events Policy, to get a permit.

In terms of the City’s policy, any activity that has more than 200 people in attendance with any structures, amplified sound or impact on any City services such as traffic, disaster, fire and health management requires the organiser to apply for an event permit.

According to Mr Bosman, the events policy has been developed and guided by applicable legislation and regulations, including the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act (SASREA).

He added that it would be the responsibility of the event organiser to apply for an event risk categorisation from SAPS as defined in Section 6 of the SASREA.

A medical, safety and security, transport and traffic management plan, as well as road closure approvals, waste management, venue confirmation, communication of support for hosting of event from ward councillor, affected residents and businesses and an appointment of a safety officer are requirements to ensure the physical well-being and safety of both participants and spectators at events.

In one of the last incidents regarding the troupes practising in the Bo-Kaap, on Sunday November 20, “a member of one of the minstrel troupes” was shot and killed in what Mr Bosman said was an “illegal back march”.

Yusuf Safudien, exco member for the Bo-Kaap Civic Association (BKCA), said they have been meeting with troupes from the Bo-Kaap, who he said, “are allowed to come and go in the area, as that was always part of the culture”.

However, the timing was always an issue and he added that they have made attempts to address the issue with teams and boards.

“There is a cut-off time, which is usually around 1am for the latest, we aim for midnight, but 1am is the cut-off.

“We do tell the troupes to take the responsibility and to not come in late into the Bo-Kaap because there are people who would like to rest,” he said.

Mr Safudien said complaints received from Bo-Kaap residents mostly involved the timing issue.

“They (minstrel troupes) need to consider the community. We are not against the minstrels, but they must understand that there are some people for it and some people against it and we have to respect that,” he said, confirming that troupes would be marching for one last time on Saturday February 11.

He said BKCA plan to sit down with each of the boards and work out a schedule which could accommodate both residents and troupes.

“Time is the main issue here and we cannot ignore the fact that there are residents complaining about the times,” Mr Safudien said

Spokesperson for Cape Town Central police, Captain Ezra October, added that there had been a stabbing during one of the practice marches last week and a troupe member had allegedly been involved. A case of assault has been opened.

He also confirmed that the station and events committee of the City received numerous complaints of noise from residents in the Bo Kaap and nearby.

“Cape Town Central Police members have been advised to open cases under the illegal gatherings act.”

Police are also aware that there are “deep divisions between the two minstrel assossiations”.

“We would like to appeal to the leaders not to allow their members to participate in illegal marchers without valid permits from the City. In partnership with other security roleplayers, we will have to stop the illegal marches,” Captain October said.

Troupes will head to Athlone Stadium on Saturday February 11 for the trophy handout ceremony.