Picketers demand justice for pro-Palestine protester assaulted during marathon

Woodstock police say they are investigating

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People picketed outside the Woodstock Police Station on Sunday to demand justice for Anthea Houston who was assaulted during a pro-Palestine protest at the Cape Town Marathon on 15 October. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso

About a hundred people picketed outside the Woodstock Police Station in Cape Town on Sunday to demand justice for a woman who was assaulted during a pro-Palestine protest.

Anthea Houston, Chief Executive Officer for social housing agency Communicare, was among a group of pro-Palestine picketers on the roadside during the Cape Town Marathon on 15 October.

According to Houston’s daughter, Juanita Pandy, the male runner allegedly charged towards Houston “unprovoked” before hitting her twice on the chest and on her chin. The man then ran off and some people ran after him to get pictures and video.

Pandy said that her mother had collapsed and was unconscious when she was taken to hospital for treatment. “How is it okay that someone attacks a person during the day and continues to be free as if nothing happened?

“We demand a thorough successful investigation. The runner must have his day in court and explain why he hit her like that,” said Pandy.

She said the police and Western Province Athletics as well as the Cape Town Marathon were notified of the incident.

On Monday, SAPS spokesperson Wesley Twigg confirmed that Woodstock police are investigating a case of assault. “The circumstances surrounding this are under investigation. No arrests have been made. The investigation continues,” he said.

Houston’s family believes she was assaulted because she supported Palestine and was wearing a headscarf during the picket amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday protesters, who included anti-gender-based-violence activists, demanded that police immediately arrest Houston’s alleged attacker.

Fiona September, a protester, said, “The roots of undermining women in any form should be a thing of the past. We believe she was assaulted because she is a woman and for her beliefs. The perpetrator must have his day in court. The police must act. We want to see justice. He cannot get away just like that without any consequences.”

Houston was not present at the picket because she was still recovering at home. Via message, she said, “The outpouring of all care and concern has been overwhelming and I am so appreciative … We demonstrated peacefully last week to raise awareness about the genocide in Palestine … I will never forget the sensation of my head bashing into the tar, bouncing up and hitting the road for the second time. I don’t know why he did this to me.”

TOPICS:  Israel-Palestine

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