Cape Town Climate Strike: 15 March 2019

The #ClimateStrikeCapeTown took place on Friday 15th March 2019 from 12h00-15h00. A crowd of 2000 people (mostly youth) from across the city gathered in front of Parliament to protest against government inaction on climate change. The demonstration included speeches from school leaders and a number of musical and dance performances.

The convening parties (Africa Clockwise, Fossil Free South Africa, 350Africa, Extinction Rebellion South Africa, eMzantsi Carnival, Earthchild Project and Fridays for Future SA) made the following demands to SA’s political parties on the day, which was also circulated in the media via the strike press release:

1.     Making climate action the priority of the 2019 election

2.     A moratorium on new coal, gas and oil mining licences

3.     100% renewable energy in the electricity sector by 2030

4.     A Green New Deal for South Africa

5.     Initiating climate adaptation education in schools

Video of Yola Mgogwana’s opening speech by Xoli Fuyani

Strikers from Wynberg Girls
Earth Child Eco Warrior Yola Mgogwana and her mentor Xoli Fuyani


The call for schools to join the global Climate Strike in Cape Town on the 15th of March was spearheaded by 17-year-old Ruby Sampson from Wynberg Girls High School. Moved to tears by a blog her mother Sam Pearce had written on 14th Feb 2019 on about exponential climate change and Greta Thunberg’s clarion call to action. Ruby decided to mobilise Cape Town, starting by recruiting peers from an inter-school mental health awareness group. However, as a Matric, Ruby had taken herself off social media, so Sam launched the event page Climate Strike Cape Town on Facebook on 17th Feb and the account @fridaysforfuturesouthafrica on Instagram, inviting the other organisations (as per convenors above) to be cohosts of the Facebook event and assist where possible. As Sam was travelling through Malawi, Whatsapp was a key mobilisation tool, informing an ever-expanding participant group of school leaders, backed by smaller groups for Ops, PR consultants and stage performers.

From the outset, Sam and her team were determined to ensure that the climate strike was inclusive and intersectional in terms of its participation, as well as to be perceived by the media as an intercultural issue that couldn’t be dismissed as a ‘hippie whites’ concern and thus made enabling access her first priority. Sarah Farrell from Transparenci, who volunteered to assist with communications and organisation, engineered the critical link with 350 Africa, who pledged to cover transport costs for learners from underprivileged areas and other necessities. Fossil Free SA gave further assistance by making cash flow available while 350 waited for the international funding. This vital commitment allowed the organising team to proceed with confidence, knowing that the coverage would establish the climate crisis as an ‘equal opportunities emergency’ on the national agenda prior to the May 2019 election.

Sam first engaged her former NGO the Harlequin Foundation’s eMzantsi Carnival team to lead on logistical support and to publicise the cause in the south peninsula, allowing access to kids from Masiphumelele, Ocean View and Simonstown/Red Hill. She also invited former colleague Xoli Fuyani from Earthchild project to invite their ‘Eco-kids’ from primary schools in Khayelitsha and Lavender Hill. Sarah sent out an email to all schools across the Western Cape, attended the 1000 Climate Jobs meeting where she was able to make important contacts and did a presentation at the Teachers Union meeting at the AIDC which resulted in more contacts being made with Equal Education and schools in Delft and Mitchells Plain who decided to attend. Ruby did assemblies at Wynberg Girls, Wynberg Boys, Herschel, Simonstown and a presentation for a meeting of Anglican school principals. Other school leaders were given access to the facts of Ruby’s speech and many did assemblies at their schools such as Camps Bay High and Westerford.

The fledgling local branch of Extinction Rebellion offered invaluable support in a number of areas. Stephen Murcott set up the website and Facebook page. Chantal Dette took the lead in liaising with the city to obtain a permit, Cassi Goodman handled the banner printing and other logistical assistance and Shannon Goodman assisted with all posters and online graphics. For the purpose of Municipal approval, because Sam is out of the country, Extinction Rebellion was listed as the organising party on the forms whilst Stephen, Sarah and Ruby submitted their names as marshall, organiser and assistant organiser respectively.

Mark Sampson, Ruby’s father, designed the 1.3x6m banner used on the day and edited the mobilisation ‘Eco-Waster’ video written by Sam Pearce, filmed by Jess Myhill, featuring Ruby, her friend Hannah Davids and young Eco-warrior Yola Mgogwana. A generous group of fundis from Fossil Free SA, 350 Africa, GSCC, ACDI UCT and other allies gave of their time and expertise in brainstorming key climate action messages in the South African context to hone the PR campaign. Sam and Sarah worked together to craft and distribute the PR and media advisory; chase TV, radio, press and social media contacts; and respond to media enquiries for interviews.

On the day, coordinator Sarah, MC Ricardo Herdien and trained marshals from eMzantsi Carnival were able to cope with a turnout of around 2000 protesters, double the estimate, despite the intense heat, heavy traffic and lack of support from city officials. Cassi, Shannon, Lily and Stephen of Extinction Rebellion assisted with set up, logistics and clean up, while Sam and Westerfordian James Granelli loaded a flood of pics to Instagram.


12.00 – 1pm Masi Creative Hubdancers and drummerwith eMzantsi puppet
1pm – 1.05Ricardo Herdien MCwelcome and shoutout to schools
1.05 – 1.10 (3 mins)Yola Mgogwana (age 11), Yomelela Primary, Khayelitsha with Xoli Fuyani, Earthchild
1.10 – 1.15 (3 mins)Aviwe Qabaka, Simonstown Schoolwith Ezra from Westerford
1.15 – 1.25 (2 tracks)Da O (Oscar) from Masi Massive (hiphop)                                                                          
1.25 -1.30 (3 mins)Veshalin Naidoo, UCTGreener Campus Initiative
1.30 – 1.35 (3 mins)Dona van Eeden and Catherine Meyer, Eco-Maties Stellenbosch
1.35 – 1.40 (1 track)Zinzi a.k.a. Disaster (slam poet)
1.40 – 1.45 (1 track)Melisa from Ocean View (RnB)
1.45 – 1.50 (3 mins)Mila Magosa, Masi High
1.50 – 2.00 (2 tracks)Sustainable Folk: Sarah and Felix Nur
2.00 – 2.20  (2/3 tracks)Alter Fam (Afro-Kaapse soul)
2.20 – 2.25 (3 mins)Lily Shaw, Extinction Rebellion
2.25 – 2.30 (3 mins)Nthabeleng Lekau, Equal Education
2.30 – 2.35 (1 track)Anele Jim from Red Hill (rapper)
2.35 – 2.40 (3 mins)Ruby Sampson , Wynberg Girls
2.40 – 2.45 (1 track)Ricardo Herdien thanks and gospel song
2.45 – 3pmStrike stage/sound & clear all litter

MC: Ricardo Herdien

Stagemanager: Reece Pagel Sound: Deshwin

Communications manager: Sarah Farrell

Back-up logistics: Khanyiselo Silo aka Kaizer

Back-up isiXhosa liaison: Yandiswa Mazwana

Unfortunately the police shut the event down half an hour early after someone fainted and they said they were not prepared to call ambulances; as a result headliner Afro-Kaapse funkateers Alter Fam were unable to perform and neither Ruby Sampson, nor Lily Shaw from Extinction Rebellion (who has been striking each Friday from school since November 2018) got an opportunity to deliver concluding speeches. 

The entire event was an impressive exercise in remote mobilisation, being mostly coordinated in 3 weeks by a group of people who had never previously met, led by Sarah in Cape Town and Sam on her bed in the back of the Africa Clockwise truck in a garage in Lilongwe!

Press Release: CLIMATE STRIKE CAPE TOWN PR from Fridays For Future SA

We, the youth of Cape Town, South Africa declare our intention to stand beside Greta Thunberg and our comrades across the world in the Global Strike for Climate on Friday 15th March, 2019. 

We call upon our peers across the continent to rise up and join us to protest the negligence of our leaders to address the environmental crisis which is exacerbating poverty and inequality. Africa accounts for only 3.8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but is far more vulnerable to climate change than the countries who caused it.

Global warming increases the risk of drought, floods and disease.The water shortages, hunger and health risks which result from extreme weather will impact Africa’s poor the most. If we continue to do nothing, the continent could soon be facing an unprecendented exodus of eco-refugees and resource wars. 

Despite being only the 25th largest population in the world, South Africa is the 14th largest emitter of carbon dioxide. It is time our government stopped making things worse by burning Eskom’s dirty coal and trumpeting Brulpadda gas finds.

Last year, the IPCC (the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) said that if we want to keep global warming to no more than 1.5˚C by 2100 and avert climate catastrophe, we have to cut carbon emissions 50% by 2030, and 100% by 2050. If every country polluted like South Africa, we’d hit 4˚C for the world, and 8˚C for Southern Africa, because our region warms faster.

We demand that SA political parties acknowledge the climate emergency and commit to:

1.     Making climate action the priority of the 2019 election

2.     A moratorium on new coal, gas and oil mining licences

3.     100% renewable energy in the electricity sector by 2030

4.     A Green New Deal* for South Africa

5.     Initiating climate adaptation education in schools

For interviews with student leaders, contact Sam Pearce or Sarah Farrell

CONVENERS: Africa Clockwise, Extinction Rebellion, Fossil Free SA, 350 Africa, Greenpeace CT, eMzantsi Carnival, Earthchild and Fridays For Future SA

* Green New Deal addressing climate justice and inequality encompassing ecological restoration, more biosphere reserves, human rights to clean air, water, food security, sustainable agriculture with soil carbon capture, sustainable housing and jobs, affordable low-carbon public transport, plus urgent establishment of environmental and disaster management JOCs at local, provincial and national level.


The following media coverage was obtained by Sam Pearce and Sarah Farrell:

Green TimesFeb 28 SA PR only
News 24March 7SAInterviewed Ruby
Syndicated from iGen site of Washington TribuneMarch 7USARuby wrote piece
TwygMarch 13SARuby and Yola
Cape TalkMarch 13SALive interview with Ruby, Xoli and Yola
BBC MinuteMarch 14UK/globalRuby compiled
ARD radioMarch 15GermanyInterviewed Ruby and Gauteng leaders
March 15SAInterviewed Ruby and strikers on the day
Times SelectMarch 15SAInterviewed Ruby
eNCA News NighMarch 15AfricaFootage of the day
News 24March 15SA 
Bush RadioMarch 15SALive Interview with Sarah
Heart RadioMarch 15/16SANews + snippets of Sarah 
Radio 786March 15SARuby Interview
Chinese radioMarch 15ChinaRuby Interview
Daily MaverickMarch 18SAInterviewed Ruby, Sarah and Xoli
The Guardian March 15globalDona (Stellenbosch) and Veshalin (UCT) submitted
ID International youth magazineApril 25globalYola and Xoli compiled
The GuardianpendingglobalYola interview


Main mobilisers on the ground: Sarah, Xoli and Ruby Masiphumelele recruitment meeting

UCT poster run by Nayati and friends

Making the Eco-Waster video: Ruby, Yola and ‘Chad’ and the Earthchild Eco-Warriors of Yomelela Primary

Participating schools

Yomelela Primary, Khayelitsha

Saku Primary, Khayelitsha

Harmony Primary, Lavender Hill

Levant Primary, Lavender Hill

Welwitschia Primary, Delft

Oval North Primary, Mitchells Plain

Little Wood Primary, Mitchells Plain

Beacon Hill Primary, Mitchells Plain

Sandy’s Schoolroom

Wynberg Girls High

Wynberg Boys High

Masiphumelele High

Rondebosch Boys

Ocean View High


Simonstown School


Fairmont High

Camps Bay High



Herschel Girls

Edgemead High

American International School CT

Uxolo High

Sophumalela High

Stellenbosch University Eco-Maties

University of Cape Town Greener Campus Initiative

Assembly at Westerford by Matt Post-assembly discussion at Simonstown with Ruby

Placard making in Wynberg, Khayelitsha, Stellenbosch, Westerford and Masiphumelele


R35000 was budgeted for the climate strike of which R34993.09 was spent in the following manner:

Prior to the protest, R1029.29 was spent on poster-making materials for a painting session at the AIDC in Observatory, as well as for all of the participating Earthchild primary schools in Khayelitsha and Lavender Hill. An additional R1500 was given to eMzantsi Carnival for placard-making by Masiphumelele, Ocean View and Simonstown School high school youth.

R5000 was budgeted for the purpose of a banner. In order to make room for additional transport expenses, we found it was cheaper to print at Hot Ink – a carbon neutral printer. The banner was printed on 1.5 x 6m for R2984 and will be used at further protests.

For the purpose of the speeches and performances, an inexpensive stage and sound system was procured for a total of R3262.40. Danger tape was procured for the purpose of blocking streets if necessary (however, in the event, cones were borrowed from Cassie Goodman of Extinction Rebellion SA). Two portaloo toilets were also sponsored by Sanitech, at sole cost of the transport fee of R517.50.

The day before the protest we were uncertain of whether the protest would receive approval due to the fact that the City asked us to contact the magistrates court directly at the 11th hour. R100 airtime was procured for Chantal Dette to get on the phone and push the process until it was approved. 

Transport from outlying township areas made up the bulk of the budget at R18750. This included the taxi fares for some schools (listed below) and the eMzantsi crew, as well as Uber fares for Ruby Sampson travelling from her hostel across the city to give mobilisation assemblies at a number of different schools. A small additional amount of petrol expenses went to Xoli Fuyani (Earthchild facilitator), Jess Myhill (videographer) and Sarah Farrell (organiser).

On the day, R5500 was paid for 20 trained marshals (names below, ID numbers available) as well as R235 each for the MC and stage manager respectively.

Materials – Obs painting + Earthchild schools1029.29
Materials – eMzantsi Carnival1500
Sound system hire and transport2600
Transport – eMzantsi schools (Masiphumelele, Ocean View, S’town)6750
Transport – Earthchild (Khayelitsha, Lavender Hill)4800
Transport – Welwitchia Primary (Delft)1800
Transport – Oval North, Little Wood, Beacon Hill (Mitchells Plain)1800
Transport – Sophumelela High (Crossroads)600
Transport – Equal Education (Khayelitsha)1600
Toilet transport517.5
Xoli Fuyani petrol & additional cardboard400
Sarah Farrell airtime, petrol100
Ruby Sampson Ubers1500
Stage Manager Reece Pagel + MC Ricardo Herdien (235 each)470
stage hire662.4
Chantal Dette airtime – City approval100
Videographer Jess Myhill petrol150


Banner slogan in isiXhosa, English and Afrikaaps

Xoli, Yola and Ruby at Cape Talk interview Poster designed by Shannon from XR



Khanyiselo from eMzantsi facilitating marshal training

Climate Strike Cape Town Friday 15th March 2019

Performers: Thanks to Da O from Masi Massive and Sarah and Felix from Sustainable Folk

Nine children came from Sandy’s Schoolroom, in Kommetjie with a large puppet figure carrying the slogan, “We don’t want coal in our future.” One of them, Jared, with his friend, Finn Olive, wrote this speech, but owing to the shortening of the event as reported did not get a chance to approach the stage to deliver it.

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