The Economic Freedom Fighters turned up the volume in the quiet suburb of Tokai on Thursday to show their support for a resident who claims his neighbours poisoned his fruit trees to keep poor people away.
Arthur McKey, 75, says his guava and pomegranate trees are there to feed the less fortunate, but “racist” neighbours are contaminating them to keep the poor out of the larney area.
About 100 EFF demonstrators arrived in taxis with banners and gathered at the corner of Tokai and Myrtle Road before marching to the library parking area to hand over a memorandum of their grievances to a City of Cape Town representative.
Arthur says after knocking on “many doors without luck”, he decided to approach the EFF, and they answered his call.
“Last year a neighbour told me to cut down my 80-year-old guava tree because they were attracting the kind of people who don’t belong in the neighbourhood,” he says.
“I refused and instead planted more trees for the poor to come and pick the fruit at any time.
“In December I started seeing my new trees were dying, and I planted again and they died.
“I then called in a horticulturist who confirmed the trees were being poisoned.”
He says he knew the kids liked the guavas, even when still green, and he put up a sign to warn people that the fruit was not safe to eat, but that the council removed it.
He says he is not aware of anyone falling sick from his fruit, but he is afraid that now the guavas are ripe, the “racist” might poison them and kill someone.
EFF Western Cape Deputy Chairperson Nosipho Makamba-Botya says racism can’t be tolerated.
“We don’t know the long-term effect of the poison, it is wrong what they did to the children and cleaners who were benefiting from the trees,” she says.
She handed the memorandum to City official Desiree Mentor who promised the crowd she would send it to the Mayor’s office.
The memo states: “Immediately instruct the relevant officials to stop harassing children exercising their constitutional right to freedom of movement.”
The party also wants the City to lay a criminal charge against those who poisoned the trees, and to “protect the property of McKey from the onslaught by white racists”.
“The Subcouncil manager of Tokai must bring back the notice boards which were removed from the wall at Arthur’s house which cautioned against the poisoned fruit,” they added.
Arthur did not want to disclose the name of the suspected racist neighbour, saying he hopes this show of solidarity will scare off the culprit from damaging his other trees.
Nick Pool, a Tokai resident who came to see what all the fuss was about, tells the Daily Voice the situation could have been handled better without involving the EFF: “There was no need for this, the police could have solved all of this, it didn’t have to get this far.”
The peaceful protest ended at lunchtime, with Arthur inviting protesters to his house for refreshments.