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Cape Town Marathon runner assaults Communicare CEO at pro-Palestine roadside picket

Cape Town Marathon runner assaults Communicare CEO at pro-Palestine roadside picket
Communicare CEO Anthea Houston (centre) was assaulted in Salt River on Sunday, 15 October 2023, during a peaceful demonstration by the Salt River Heritage Society in solidarity with the people of Palestine. (Photo: Instagram / @saabirapanda)

‘We cannot and will not tolerate gender-based violence, especially in South Africa,’ said the Salt River Heritage Society after a Cape Town Marathon runner assaulted Communicare CEO Anthea Houston during a pro-Palestine demonstration.

Communicare CEO Anthea Houston was on Monday still in hospital after being assaulted during a pro-Palestine demonstration in Salt River, Cape Town, on Sunday, 15 October. Houston was part of a group who were peacefully protesting against the killing of Palestinians in Gaza when a participant in the Cape Town Marathon assaulted her.

Houston’s sister Lorna told Daily Maverick that the family was “still quite baffled by the motive of the incident”.  

Read in Daily Maverick: Pro-Palestine supporters mobilise across the globe demanding end to violence in Gaza

Lorna Houston confirmed that a case of assault had been opened at the Woodstock Police Station and that, “At the moment, we are hoping the police will do something.” 

The attacker has not yet been identified although there are photos of the alleged attacker doing the rounds on social media.

The Salt River Heritage Society said, “During the protest, a race participant physically assaulted Ms Houston, levelling her to the ground with force. To the dismay of onlookers, he callously continued running as if nothing had occurred and he left Ms Houston lying flat on the ground.”

The chairperson of the society, Lutfi Omar, said: “We cannot and will not tolerate gender-based violence, especially in South Africa … this incident serves as a stark reminder that we must work together to create a safer, more inclusive, and more compassionate society for all.”

Barry van Blerk, the managing director of the marathon, told Daily Maverick: “We are aware of the alleged assault and the police are presently investigating.” 

Protests against Israel’s bombardment and siege of Gaza have taken place across the world. More than 2,700 Palestinians have died in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza since Hamas militants broke through the border and killed more than 1,300 Israelis on 7 October.

In South Africa, protests have taken place in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

News24 reported that during a protest in Johannesburg on 11 October, police had to escort a lone counter-protester with an Israeli flag as pro-Palestine demonstrators protested in front of the US consulate in Sandton. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ben Harper says:

    Riiiight – just targeted one single individual out of the blue??? Unlikely story

  • Denise Smit says:

    The journalist is again putting the cart before the horse. The heading and content of the article should be “alleged assault”. Please objective journalism DM. Denise Smit

    • jason du toit says:

      according to guidelines published by both SANEF (south african national editors forum) and the press council of south africa the article heading is fair.

      there is almost no information in the article that can be used to positively identify the marathon runner, so the word “alleged” is not required: there is no way to harm the reputation of a person if the person cannot be identified using information in the article. if the reporter and the editor feel that the identity of the runner is sufficiently protected (even by inference), they can make the call to omit “alleged”. note that this is based on a confidence on the part of the author and the editor that no legal action can successfully be taken against them.

      if the journalist is confident that the events depicted in the article are true and accurately reported, the use of the word “alleged” is not required. in this case, if the journalist is satisfied that there is enough evidence to show unambiguously that a runner crashed into ms houston in a manner that constitutes assualt (presumably by interviewing eyewitnesses, reviewing video footage, and using other reliable sources), they do not need to say “alleged”. once again, the article can be a source of legal action being taken, and the onus is on the reporter and the editor to decide whether the reporting is fair (and thus safe from successful legal action being taken against them).terially unfair.

  • Peter Holmes says:

    If Anthea Houston’s sister is baffled, let me explain. Assume a Palestinian is running the CT Marathon. He has just heard that family members have been killed in an Israeli bombardment on Gaza. He passes a group of pro-Israeli demonstators peacefully holding aloft posters proclaiming: “From the Jordan to the Surf, this is ALL Israeli turf”. A red mist descends and……………. I am not condoning any assult on a protestor, but I think I might understand why it happened.

    • Ben Harper says:

      I doubt there was any assault at all, from the (rather weak) reporting it’s more likely the numpty was standing in the road obstructing runners and one just ran over her and carried on his way

  • jobstbod says:

    This shocking A runner participating in a public space assaulting a lawful protestor merely because he disagrees with the views expressed Despite the tragical events in which innocent civilians on both sides having been brutally killed, the issue here is not about whose views between the protester and the runner are palatable or not It’s rather about a basic right afforded in our Bill of Rights, about intolerance and, yes, about GBV I hope that Mr Runner/assaulter in chief will face the full force of the law, that he will receive a lengthy ban from participating in all races and that he will be ordered to undergo anger management, tolerance and gender sensitivity training

  • surita.greyling says:

    There was a lot of police officers where the protesters were, if this runner really did assault the protester, I’m sure the police would’ve intervened. People forget that runners are tired, 30 odd km’s into a 42km race and can’t swerve to avoid people that unexpectedly move into the road.

  • Greeff Kotzé says:

    It’s becoming more and more clear that a portion of the DM commentariat has a unmitigated confirmation bias problem.

    Please, please exercise some restraint and spare the rest of us your hot takes, unwarranted speculations and unsubstantiated accusations on every single article that does not fit your narrow world view. Think. Before you type.

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