State to ‘make example’ of airport poo protesters

ARTICLE BY DANEEL KNOETZE, IOL / CAPE ARGUS

CAPE TOWN – Prosecutors have shown “serious intent” in charging nine suspects in Tuesday’s faeces protest at Cape Town International Airport under the National Key Points Act, says a city criminal law attorney, Keith Gess. “A main count of contravening the National Key Points Act shows that the National Prosecuting Authority want to make an example out of these guys. It sends a strong message,” said Gess. He said a variety of charges and alternative charges were likely on the final charge sheet. Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut confirmed that the nine suspects would appear in the Bellville Magistrates Court on Thursday. If found guilty, the suspects face up to 20 years in jail and/or a fine of R1 million. The airport is national key point because as it is a port of entry to South Africa, said Deborah Francis, spokeswoman for the Airports Company South Africa. On Tuesday, in view of some media who had been tipped off about “a protest” at the airport, protesters arrived with faeces-filled tanks and emptied them at the airport’s departures terminal. Expelled ANC councillor Andile Lili and ANC Youth League member Loyiso Nkohla were among those arrested. Lili and Nkohla have been involved in a number of protests which have seen faeces hurled at Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s convoy and dumped on the steps of the provincial legislature in recent weeks. Disowned and condemned by the provincial ANC and the ANC Youth League, the pair have maintained that they are championing the cause of shack dwellers who are “being neglected” by the city’s toilet and sanitation services. The ANC says that they have brought the party into disrepute, and intends to take disciplinary action against them. Speaking before their arrest at the airport on Tuesday, Lili said they had targeted the airport in a bid to escalate the protests about the sanitation woes in many of Cape Town’s informal settlements and bring them to the attention of the international community and the United Nations. Alan Winde, MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, agreed that the protests had made a significant impact on the international community’s perception of Cape Town. It had affected the brand Cape Town and the whole African continent.