The SA Police Service has lifted a security ban, placed on the Soweto Pride event, ahead of its upcoming event in September.
The ban was imposed last year after police classified the event as a risk. But this year, the organisers reached a negotiated plan which would allow one of the country's most important LGBTQI events to proceed.
The 2016 Soweto Pride was classified as 'medium risk' by the SAPS, who felt that patrons bringing their own alcohol to the event created a dangerous environment for the residents of Soweto. The police required that organisers pay R146,000 for additional police officers, an impossible request on its small budget.
"Because last year the event was cancelled, we felt that we still want to be able to organise our pride without the state imposing some of the things on us. For instance, if people want to organise pride, without any intervention." said Siphokazi Zii Nombande, Soweto Pride operations co-ordinator.
"This year, we had to negotiate with them because we just couldn't afford a medium rise, and that we needed to do, because we need pride, especially in the townships, so they re-categorised us to a low-risk event if we agreed to stop allowing people to bring their own alcohol."
The theme for this year is 'Reclaiming our right to organise' – which is a direct response to the 2016 ban. "Pride is a protest, it is a march which will claim the streets of Soweto." Nombande said.
"It is not a parade about fashion and stuff. We don't have floats. For us you just go, wear your activist t-shirt, and you attend the march."
The event is unique because it takes place during heritage month and most people can attend because it takes place in a township. It is also more affordable than other pride events.
"We are hoping people can come in numbers to attend the march and claim their streets, and this year we really want the city to endorse Soweto pride as an official event because it is important for everyone, " said Nombande.Suggest a correction