May 11, 2016

Gupta family unjustly pressures government to stop peaceful protest

JOHANNESBURG –– A peaceful action organised by Break Free South Africa[1] taking place this coming Saturday, at No.1 Saxonwold in Johannesburg, famously known as the “Gupta Compound”, has been prohibited by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD).

The planned protests is not just about the Gupta family who resided in this compound before relocating to Dubai, but what they represent. They are the public face of the close business-government relationship that functions as a serious stumbling block in the country’s  urgent need for a just transition to renewable energy. (Africa and Arab World) is weighing its options to challenge this decision and to push forward with its peaceful protest. This goes against our constitutional right to freedom of speech freedom to gather and the freedom to protest.

“We are appalled at the blatant disregard of our constitutional right to protest. As it stands the fight for climate justice is interlinked with the fight for social justice. We have a right to march and the right to protest is fundamental in maintaining a healthy democracy” said Ferrial Adam, (Africa and Arab World) Team Director. followed all procedures and legal requirements to notify JMPD of our intention to march.

The police were notified of our gathering on March 17th, 2016. The required Section 4 meeting with Metro police was held on May 4th to notify of a public protest, and plans of the public gathering outside no 1 Saxonwold were laid out and approved.

But on May 5th, 2016, we were notified by the police that the State Intelligence pressured the JMPD to revoke our right to protest on the claims that the action cannot take place in a residential area. “While the reversal of the decision made on the 4th of May came as no surprise it reaffirms that business interests still come before the people’s well-being” said Amir Bagheri – Break Free campaigner.

Two meetings were held with JMPD. At the second meeting, lawyers representing Ronica Ragavan – who has often acted on behalf of the Gupta family- was present. was notified today, May 11th, 2016 of the prohibiton. According to the Gatherings Act 205 of 1993, there is no clause that stipulates that a gathering cannot take place outside a residential home.  



[1] Break Free South Africa comprises of civil society organisations, coal mining impacted communities, farmers and NGO’s, who have all united to speak out and protest against the climate crises and corruption in the coal mining sector. This is part of a global wave of peaceful actions to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground.   During May 4 – 14, thousands of people across six continents are engaging in these actions under the banner of Break Free.



Lerato Letebele – 350Africa – Communications Manager: [email protected]; +2711339 1035

Hoda Baraka, Global Communications Manager, [email protected], +1-347-453-6600