Have Cape Town’s beaches become a political beach ball, Film shoots cancelled by Police Minister Bheki Cele! Beaches quieter than expected!



Yesterday a visit to Camps Bay beach as well as eight other Cape Town beaches by Police Minister Bheki Cele appeared to develop into a political beach ball between the ANC-led Government and the DA-led City of Cape Town, a mask-wearing mission by the Minister resulting in him closing down a film shoot set up to take place just in front of the Lifesaving building on the Camps Bay Beach.

According to news reports the City of Cape Town is to seek a reversal of the film shoot ban in the High Court, via an urgent interdict!

I was driving through Camps Bay from the Clifton side yesterday morning at about 11h00, when I was surprised to see a cavalcade of about ten black blue-light-flashing BMWs at the Pump Station of Camps Bay. Only when I arrived at home did I see in a Whats App Group that Minister Cele was paying our beaches a visit, having walked from the SAPS parking area all the way down to the main Camps Bay Beach, with an entourage of at least twenty persons, wearing masks but not socially distanced.  Policemen on horses added a security element for the Minister’s protection and visible presence.

There was visible police presence everywhere, I never having seen police officers walking or patrolling Victoria Road in our area. Four Police vans were parked on the pavement behind the taxi rank, and five Metro Risk Management vehicles were parked on the lawn near the Tidal Pool. Traffic Enforcement vehicles stood where the taxis stop, and two traffic officials controlled the traffic lights near Camps Bay, to ease the traffic flow. In my 25 years of living in Camps Bay I have never seen such visible policing.

Walking through Camps Bay twice after the Minister’s visit, I saw a group of about 20 policemen huddled under a tree at the public toilets near the Lifesaving building, all concentrating on their phones. It is not clear what their duty was for the rest of the day after Minister Cele and his entourage moved on to Clifton. I did spot a group of three policeman walking on the Victoria Road pavement moving towards a group of ten young ladies, none of whom wore masks nor were socially distanced, and one of the police officers stretched out his arms, signalling for them to stop. They exchanged words which resulted in loud laughter, and then each party continued on its way. No masks were worn by the ladies after this encounter.

On my earlier walk I saw a marquee behind the Lifesaving office, as well as a collection of props, clearly intended for a film shoot. At that time I had not seen the eNCA news broadcast, with Minister Cele in a heated discussion with a representative of the film company, insisting that it had a permit for the shoot. The Minister questioned its validity, given that it was issued some weeks ago, and that President Ramaphosa had announced new regulations on Monday 14 December.  A news broadcast I saw today reflects the Minister bullying and rudely interrupting the City of Cape Town Mayco member for Security, Alderman JP Smith, in a discussion about the film shoot. Oddly Alderman Smith has announced that the City will take the matter to the High Court as an Urgent Interdict, seeking that the film shoot ban be overturned.

I was cleaning the Beaches and Beachfront with my Cleaning team late yesterday afternoon, my team members overhearing Law Enforcement officers requesting beachgoers to leave the beach at 18h00. I watched this with great interest, expecting resistance to the new law. My biggest surprise was that the Tidal Pool only had three swimmers in it just after 18h00.

While Social Media has been highly critical of the Minister’s visit, the costs involved, and the threats made by him to potentially close all the beaches in the Western Cape, I saw its benefit from a different perspective. As a resident of Camps Bay I felt totally safe in walking in Camps Bay, in seeing such visible police and law enforcement presence all day. As a litter cleaner I was even more delighted that fewer beachgoers had visited our beaches, despite it bring a wind-free sunny day, and that the amount of Litter to clean on the Beaches and the Beachfront was vastly reduced, and with it the consumption of alcohol on the beach areas, compared to the same date in the past two years.

Surprisingly Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has not commented on yesterday’s Beach spat!


Postscript 18/12/20: Eleven film productions which were to have been shot in Cape Town have been cancelled as a result of the heavy-handed action by Police Minister Cele on Wednesday. Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato issued the following statement:


National Police Minister’s bully tactics could cost Cape film economy R24 million as productions cancel shoots.

Yesterday’s bully tactics by National Police Minister, Bheki Cele, to close down a legitimate and permitted film shoot on Camps Bay Beach has resulted in the immediate cancellation of 11 additional film shoots for fear of further financial losses if shut down irregularly and without due cause by the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Bheki Cele is not the National Commissioner anymore – he was fired from that position in 2012 and is now a minister, who has no authority to instruct a police officer.

We have already approached the High Court to grant an interdict preventing the SAPS from further unlawful interference in legitimate film shoots.
This matter will be heard tomorrow.

The City of Cape Town and Western Cape Government have repeatedly said that while battling the spread of the coronavirus, it is critical that we also open up our economy to retain as many jobs as possible.
This sentiment has also been echoed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
I will be writing to the President to ask if he supports his National Minister’s destructive and unlawful behaviour, and if not, what action he plans to take to address his Minister’s bully tactics.
Minister Cele’s unlawful conduct includes the issuing of instructions to operational SAPS staff, which he has no authority to do.
This matter has also been reported to the Parliamentary Ethics Committee.

Eleven productions have notified the City of Cape Town that they will be cancelling their shoots, each of which is estimated to cost a minimum of R1,2 million.
These costs do not include hotels, flights and other costs for hundreds of film crew and support staff, all of whom are adhering to the strictest COVID-19 safety protocols, as the industry slowly finds its feet again after months of lockdown.

Cape Town is a film-friendly city and we will not allow National Government’s unlawful behaviour to change this.
We have made our city an enabling environment for local and international film crews who love to visit our shores.
Cape Town has some of the best creative talent in the world, which is why we continue to be a destination of choice for international and local production companies.
I applaud Alderman JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, for standing up to Minister Cele yesterday and correcting his poor understanding of the national COVID-19 regulations.

Instead of policing beaches with heavily armed police officers and intimidating innocent sun bathers, the National Police Minister should be in our most crime affected communities, making sure that gangsters are caught and put behind bars, making our communities safer.

Read more: https://bit.ly/38exp3c


POSTSCRIPT 18/12/20: The City of Cape Town took the matter to the High Court, and an out-of-Court settlement was reached, the film shoot ban being withdrawn by SAPS. All eleven film shoots are allowed again. TimesLive wrote as follows:

Two days after police minister Bheki Cele clashed with Cape Town officials and shut down a film crew on Camps Bay beach, the council claimed victory after an out-of-court settlement was reached.

During a walkabout on Wednesday, Cele came across the crew’s work. He ordered that they immediately stop working, saying additional activities on beaches were prohibited by the latest Covid-19 disaster management act regulations. This was despite officials telling the minister permits had been obtained for the work.

eNCA filmed the spot check.

“There are no extra activities on the beach, except beachgoers doing their things,” said Cele.

“If you say it’s the city who gave you permission for this, I’ll have to speak to the city because there should be no social activity on the beach.”

In a later exchange with the city’s mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith, Cele said allowing the activity was a “slight in the face of the regulations” President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced two days earlier.

Smith argued that the shoot was within the parameters of the laws, and that the city had issued a permit and was ensuring Covid-19 compliance. Cele, however, wouldn’t budge.

As a result, the city of Cape Town went to court, and on Friday claimed victory in the matter.

“The city has prevailed against minister Cele,” Smith said.

“The out-of-court settlement prohibits the police from interfering with film shoots when the city has issued a permit.”

He described the settlement as an “important victory for federalism and the rights of local government when it is subjected to arbitrary and unlawful interference by national government office bearers”.

To the film industry, he said: “Our doors are open for business.”

TimesLIVE has reached out to Cele’s office for comment on the settlement. This story will be updated.



Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein

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