Use of gazebos sparks heated debate

Several gazebos were placed along the route and was later permitted due to the heat.
Many in the stands brought their own umbrellas to cope with the heat.
Conditions were severe and there were a few cases of sunstroke reported on the day.

The Hollywoodbets Cape Town Street Parade saw thousands of people flock to the streets of the Cape Town city centre to catch a glimpse of the long-awaited minstrel parade.

For the past two years, the event was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but earlier this year, the Kaapse Klopse Karnival Association confirmed that the minstrel parade would be making a return.

“It’s not the full complement that we always have but we understand that it’s because of Covid-19 and its ravaging effects. Our attitude is, the troupes that exist, we will use this carnival to regroup,” said KKKA director, Muneeb Gambeno.

The event drew lots of attention, mostly due to the fact that it had not taken place for the past two years and this resulted in many visiting the city centre the day before to book spots on the carnival route.

Gazebos and chairs were used to book spots, causing a major uproar, especially after it was announced that no gazebos would be allowed for safety purposes.

Shariefa Stellenboom, from Lentegeur in Mitchell’s Plain, said the use of the gazebos was banned, yet the streets were lined with single and double gazebos.

“There was no interference from Law Enforcement side. If we as law-abiding citizens had known, then we could have also secured us a spot,” she said. “But to allow it and then have the people own those spots as if they paid for it is ridiculous.”

Ms Stellenboom said one family had tied string around the outside of their gazebo, to restrict people from standing under their gazebos.

“They place these gazebos right up against the fencing and now you cannot even go forward, underneath their gazebos, to view the klopse. Then you get told to step back and that we should have then come earlier,” a frustrated Ms Stellenboom said.

Ashley Joseph had an altercation with a family who refused to put down their gazebo after the sun had set.

Mr Joseph said they had “respectfully” requested the family to put down the gazebo earlier during the day as many were struggling to see in the back.

“You could already see the responses we were getting and the aggression. I swear I felt like I am asking somebody in their hotel room if I could perhaps share the floor with them, in their room, that they paid for,” he said.

According to Mr Joseph, the conversation ended when the family said they had a baby and elderly person with them, but when the sun set and the gazebo was completely in the shade, the family still refused.

“When we asked them this time, they said if they put it down, then everybody would rush ‘their’ spot. It was simply outrageous. We could understand the heat, but what about at night? People only really put down those gazebos when the last team passed,” Mr Joseph said.

Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, said the City would not usually permit the use of gazebos at an event of that size, due to safety issues.

“The safety of all patrons is the City’s priority at all events. The use of gazebos at events creates safety risks for patrons, especially when it’s windy,” Mr Smith said.

He also confirmed that the City were aware that the gazebos would impede on the vision of others, but with temperatures rising to as high as 39ºC, the City were forced to permit usage.

“Due to the weather conditions, very hot and no wind, the City permitted the use of gazebos to reduce the risk of medical incidents due to heat exhaustion,” Mr Smith explained.

He added that the event was taking place in an area “with very little cover” from the extreme conditions on the day.