Call to help artist robbed during taxi violence

Innocent Kasanhai with some of his work.

A non-profit organisation is raising funds for a Masiphumelele artist after he was robbed and his car torched during last week’s taxi violence.

Project Noordhoeked started a BackaBuddy page for Innocent Kasanhai who is a friend of the project.

“He crafts beautiful wire and beaded animals, which he sells at the water’s edge in Simon’s Town. His work sits in homes all over the world and tourists love his wild safari creatures,” said Karoline Hanks, of Project Noordhoeked.

Mr Kasanhai said he knew he was in “big trouble” when two minibus taxis pulled up behind him and shots were fired into the back of his car in Philippi on Monday August 7, at around 8.30am.

He had just bought R4000 worth of beads and wire to make more crafts and had his phone and R1 600 for his children’s Sun Valley Primary School fees in his pockets.

He was making his way home after delivering beads to some artists when the incident happened.

It had been a misty morning and he had only noticed a convoy of taxis in front of him with men holding pangas and hammers “when it was too late”, he said.

He tried to make a U-turn, but two minibus taxis pulled up behind him, blocking the road.

“One of the drivers had a gun and fired two shots into the back of my car. I thought this is it, I’m going to die.”

At the same time, a big rock was flung through the passenger-side window, and this is when he decided to get out of the car and surrender.

He said a man with a hammer had grabbed him and had been ready to hit him on the head when another man had held the assailant’s arm back and said, “Why hit him? Just take his phone and money.”

Mr Kasanhai ran through sewage towards some houses to escape the chaos.

“They didn’t want to follow me through the sewage,” he said.

A woman had helped him and he had watched his car burn from her house.

“All the excess beads and 22 paintings I had in my car were destroyed. I couldn’t afford insurance so I’m without a car now.”

He has been trading outside Bertha’s Restaurant in Simon’s Town for 21 years.

Ms Hanks said Mr Kasanhai had made three of Project Noordhoeked’s wire whales – the original Kakapo and two subsequent ones: Mama Kakapo and Baby Kakapo.

“These are the Kakapos we have all come to know and love down at Noordhoek Beach. Based on their success in encouraging beach walkers to collect plastic, Innocent has had calls to make other wire creatures in Hout Bay, the V&A Waterfront, Zeekoevlei, and Fish Hoek. His work is brilliant, and he is always eager to help and quick to respond to any requests,” she said.

Ocean View police station commander Captain Nick Spreeth said the incident had happened outside the Philippi Police College and a case of malicious damage to property and theft had been opened.

The docket, he said, had been transferred to the Samora Machel police and he did not know if they had made any arrests.

A screengrab of a video showing Innocent Kasanhai’s car burning in Philippi.