‘Drumming up a storm’ in St Francis

By Bev Mortimer

The St Francis Drum Circle that has been in existence for more than 20 years and become far more regular over the last four years, has been banned owing to only one formal noise complaint.
The banning announcement was made by Kouga Municipality’s law enforcement officers, who spoke for about an hour to the drumming social group earlier this month of March and threatened the drummers: “The next time you play your drums, all your drums will be confiscated. And you will be fined!”
This was the final threat to the drummers of the social drumming group, who have allegedly been repeatedly threatened and harassed by KM’s DA mayor, Horatio Hendricks and his DA-led, KM law enforcement officers. This is according to founder of the Drum Circle, Ryan Donnelly, who says: “This social circle has suffered years of fear mongering by KM, which has resulted in reduced attendance.

Photo caption… The photo marks the last Drum Circle at the Fig Tree public open space, or park, which was threatened and its drums have remained ‘silent’ since they are not allowed to be played. Photos supplied by Ryan Donnelly.

Now they have banned the drum circle gathering because of a single noise complaint, which we believe is unconstitutional.“Gatherings are typically quite festive and only get stopped by SAPS when there is a serious safety issue,” Ryan says.
The drummers, who live in the St Francis Bay suburb of Sea Vista, plus those drummers, who are residents in the more affluent area of St Francis Bay, such as, Ryan, who has lived there for at least three or more decades, and who has played infrequently with other local drummers for more than 20 years in St Francis, were told that they don’t belong in St Francis Bay!

Widespread shock and dismay has been expressed on social media groups . Words expressed the most are: ‘tragedy’, ‘shocking’, ‘insane’ , ‘unbelievable’ and ‘draconian!’
Ryan says on a number of occasions before this banning, a resident, who appeared highly unstable by observers, would approach the group – “under the fig tree shaking and pacing everywhere hysterically, and would tell them to stop playing, while threatening and pointing at them and the very small kids that were playing with us. This man claimed to the group that he was with law enforcement and waved a white piece of paper at them.”
On one occasion all of the drum circlers left the drum circle and sat under the trees on the far side of the park to get away from this man’s harassment. Shortly after the last most recent threats by this unpleasant man, a single noise complaint against the drumming circle was laid at the St Francis Bay police station.

“Infringing on the right of assembly can be quite a serious thing in SA. The Right of assembly is strongly protected in the constitution. The mayor and the KM have hassled us for the past four years, wanting us to “register as an event,” which we are not, and has now banned us for assembling and being festive at our gathering.”
Ryan also points out a drum circle is an informal gathering, which is closely related to ‘a spontaneous gathering’, which is legal and protected by the constitution. According to the Gatherings Act, the SAPS is the responsible authority of any gathering on the day, not the Municipality. It is legal for any social group (10 or less) to plan a get-together in any park or beach.
“Any social group can become a spontaneous gathering, which we see happening all the time at sunset rocks, Granny’s Pool, the Cove, Main Beach, Seals Beach etc.
“Kouga Municipality controls events in the area. We are not an ‘event. We do not advertise where and when our social group will be, nor do we charge attendance fees.
“We have a 10-member private group where we share drumming info of when and where. Sometimes on the day chosen, other drummers might join in so we then become ‘an impromptu, social gathering’ closely related to ‘a spontaneous gathering’, which is legal – legal to attend and protected by the constitution.
“We often attract bystanders, who observe or join in! St Francis children, and even elderly adults.”
A distraught Ryan, thanks all those who have drummed with him in the past 20 or 30 years.

A petition to support the drum circle has been started . Copy and past the whole, long link in the search bar: https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fpetitions.eko.org%2Fpetitions%2Fi-support-the-st-francis-drum-circle%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR0KnKrSrZKFCIZ-syEppTWKKm_5HQ2P7bEpInfdtjpDXOIVLmWBiCmZ9Dw&h=AT0c3J201F4ROSPpzcnJ0J8JuOqDgLZ0QJcylx8IN9bIhHMsTn0Nq_DTK4cRkqi7DyBVeh1MpwNR0AOKGt9VQpGDv9_WXqK5YGJvw1eilUjCm0TSE3AwiLGknVeg_-qstxMxBYf6wVczyXsAhlxH&tn=R]-R&c[0]=AT1jtvCfUMLNjxQZsiZjCWWVzUJhHScOBY8yeVEFKsw8aB0Umrm90Sl94EexW0eC3lTi3zTEeK_TGDKqW2snjogr8_eDm_ZlLsTqz1MjrmbNksqpEGP5Y_Qou6QmhSzeVsCViQR6w4lS8D3QfWrldWc_yOizpttBRUqGQ51tzSbabc8RjbuJVut5zIX7m2Mqjtv_uAebw2pHptEyeDULBC4



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