A sheep is led onto Fourth Beach in Clifton, Cape Town, on Friday, December 28 2018. Protesters slaughtered it in a cleansing ceremony. Picture: Philani Nombembe
A sheep is led onto Fourth Beach in Clifton, Cape Town, on Friday, December 28 2018. Protesters slaughtered it in a cleansing ceremony. Picture: Philani Nombembe

As the row over people told to leave Clifton Fourth Beach at sunset snowballs, the City of Cape Town will lay charges against protesters who slaughtered a sheep on the beach. 

The city’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, told the SABC that two or three “political activists” would be charged for violating a bylaw prohibiting the slaughtering of an animal in a public space without consent.

“I think we probably received in excess of 150 complaints within the first 12 hours after the incident with people forwarding the footage, so the city can’t ignore any transgression of its bylaws,” he said.

Protest organiser Chumani Maxwele, who cut the sheep’s throat in front of a handful of animal rights protesters, dismissed objections to the “cleansing” ceremony on the beach.

“Let them go and lay a complaint with the commission for cultural rights [Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Rights Commission] and other platforms,” the Sunday Times quoted him as saying.

The animal was slaughtered to exorcise the “demon of racism” after days of rising tension and claims about apartheid-style beach bans. Professional Protection Alternatives (PPA), a private security company hired by some residents at Clifton Fourth Beach, was accused of ordering people off the beach after 8pm. The company said it was assisting city law enforcement staff but the city denied they had a relationship.

Smith told the SABC that “two, possibly three” people who are well known for engaging in protest action in the province would face charges.

Asked why law-enforcement officers had not acted before the sheep was slaughtered, he said the animal was “stealthily” sneaked onto the beach. By the time law-enforcement officers spotted it, “the sheep appeared to be dead”.

“Then they became aware of the fact that the sheep was still alive. They [law enforcement] indicated that they wanted to take action but because it is a public-order policing situation, SAPS assumed command and control.”

He said a senior police officer had instructed law-enforcement officers not to take any action.

“We have since taken advice on that and it appears that the senior SAPS person did not have the right to prevent the enforcement of a city bylaw,” said Smith.

The city plans to forward a formal complaint about the alleged conduct of the security company to the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority on Monday, he added.

“The frustration for us is that we have the power to deal with the transgression of the bylaw but not the power to see through the proper investigation around this private security matter — that is in the exclusive hands of national government.”