Cape Town - Demonstrators wearing gas masks, lab coats to emulate scientists from oil company Shell protested in Cape Town on Tuesday against hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas.
Shell SA is punting shale gas as an affordable alternative to coal, nuclear and renewable energy industries and wants to explore 90 000km² of the Karoo.
The protesters included a man dressed up as a cane wielding silent film actor Charlie Chaplin, claim that fracking is causing massive contamination of water supplies and is mostly affecting women and children who live in the areas where it occurs.
"Fracking will not affect just the Karoo. It may affect about half of South Africa's landmass including areas in the Drakensberg," said Marina Louw, an organiser from Climate Justice Campaign which took part in the demonstration with environmental organisation Earthlife Africa.
"A lot of the waste water from fracking may be discharged into rivers and the chemicals may leach up radioactivity under ground.
"Water becomes your blood plasma and spinal fluid.
"The most vulnerable people are rural women and children because they live in these areas and many get their water from where fracking water is dumped."
The protesters who had gathered outside the Natural History Museum in the Company's Gardens in the Cape Town city centre held up banners reading, "Stop fracking with our water", "Frack off" and "Fracking poisons".
"I'm a musician and I'm going to write a song about this," one of the older male protesters said.
"You know they have the slogan 'go well go Shell', well my lyrics will be 'go well go to hell'."
The protester impersonating Chaplin did not answer when asked about the significance of his costume, but instead raised his cane and mimed a choking motion.
He then pulled a gas mask over his face and coughed before joining the protesters who marched into Cape Town shouting repeatedly: "Fracking no... Clean energy now and forever".