A group calling themselves ‘The Queer Feminist Artivist Collective‘ have made an incredible statement this week, by deciding to occupy a mansion in Camps Bay to get their voices heard. This part of Cape Town is one of the richest suburbs in South Africa – and that is exactly why it has been chosen for this protest.
Camps Bay mansion ‘occupied by activists’
The collective, who initially booked a three-day visit here before deliberately over-staying, are demonstrating against the severe housing issues that plague the Mother City. These well-off locations, they state, are full of empty houses that are used ‘only as holiday homes’ by high net-worth individuals.
They also believe that this is the ideal vehicle to highlight issues with land – given that hundreds of thousands of citizens are still forced to live in township shacks. Xena Ness, a member of the Queer Artivists, says that this occupation is not an attack on private ownership, but rather, a demonstration against the fact that so many citizens are excluded from this market:
“Around 0.05% in our society are high net worth individuals. They are the ones who own all of this prime property in Camps Bay, Clifton Sea Point. The majority, however, do not have access to – and will never own – property here. We only want to occupy spaces that are not occupied, and that we are told is not for us.”
“In Camps Bay, in particular, it is a site here a slave ship capsized during the time of colonisation and slavery – and it is not memorialised. We are not attacking private ownership. We are not saying people are not allowed to own their own property. What we are calling into question is what this private ownership looks like, who it excludes and who it oppresses.”
‘Queer Collective’ protest for social justice
Of course, another vital part of their campaign is to highlight the problems faced by LGBTQI+ citizens. Ness and her fellow activists are dismayed by the ‘lack of safe spaces’ for those who identify as queer, and feel that the symbolism of occupying a mansion in Camps Bay draws attention to the problems faced by these marginalised communities.
We occupy to protest the lack of safe space for queer people, women & children in a country with abhorrent rates of gender based violence. We invite everyone into acts of solidarity with those who =cannot pay rent, cannot afford to eat, those who live at the threat of violence
— We See You (@WeSeeYou_2020) September 21, 2020
Read the original article on The South African