Thursday, 15 July 2021

Pretoria: Days after violent protests engulfed parts of the country, the situation in Gauteng has stabilised with clean-up operations to vandalised facilities having commenced.

“We are pleased with the reports that Gauteng is largely calm with fewer incidences overnight and thus far, only six incidences were reported. This has been largely due to increased deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Metro Police in areas that have been identified as potential hotspots,” acting Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said on Thursday.

Providing an update on the ongoing violent protests in some parts of South Africa, the Minister said the situation in KwaZulu-Natal remains volatile but moving towards stability.

The Ministers in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) are currently in KwaZulu-Natal, working with the provincial government to assess and monitor the situation on the ground and attend to arising issues.

“Last night and today we have arrested 139 additional people, which makes a cumulative total of arrests in Gauteng 725.

“To date, the SAPS has received reports of 26 deaths cumulatively in Gauteng related to the violence. However, six bodies were discovered on the roof of Tembisa South Mall and an inquest has been opened – these deaths are not related to the incidence of violence,” Ntshavheni said.

The latest statistics for KwaZulu-Natal show that 39 incidences were reported on Wednesday night and Thursday.

An additional 392 arrests were made, which makes the cumulative number of arrests to 1 478.

Fatalities that have been linked to the violence are cumulatively 91.

“The Provincial Commissioners of the SAPS have in the meantime activated Sub Social Crime Prevention Strategies and have been engaging with various stakeholders… in order to amplify current operational plans to best tackle the looting and destruction of property,” the Minister said.

With regards to the deployment of 25 000 soldiers, 10 000 were on the ground as of Thursday. This is an increment of 5 000 from Wednesday.

Resolving racial tensions in Phoenix

Government has expressed concern on reports of racial tensions in areas such as Phoenix in Durban.

“Ministers have visited the area and engaged various stakeholders to resolve racial tensions. Furthermore, members of the SAPS and the SANDF have been deployed in the area to restore law and order,” the Minister said.

She called on communities in altercations to bridge the racial barriers and work together towards a common goal of protecting South Africa.

“We have noted reports of some armed community members brandishing firearms and dangerous weapons publicly in an apparent reiteration against perpetrators of the public violence,” the Minister said.

She said that while persons are entitled to protect their property and lives, this must be done in accordance with the Constitution.

“It should be done in a manner that life is protected as provided for in our Constitution and can only be infringed in extremely limited circumstances inter alia in order to protect life or the bodily integrity of the one who is being attacked.

“We do not want a situation where members of the public are at loggerheads with the law after their attempts to protect their communities, properties and their own lives. We are pleading with communities to not infringe on the rights of others and do not take the law into your own hands,” the Minister said.

Community efforts to protect their properties and communities should be done with the Community Policing Forums or the Community in Blue as they work within the established SAPS framework.

Economic impact

Meanwhile, government has expressed concern at the economic impact of the violence, looting and destruction of infrastructure that has taken place.

“Over the past few days, the main routes have been blocked by protestors with stones and other dangerous items. Of concern is the effect on the supply value chain and movement of goods between Richards Bay and Durban port to various destinations,” the Minister said.

The SANDF have been deployed to protect the national key points and the SAPS is providing escorts for the transportation of supplies such as oxygen, medicines and other key goods that have to reach other parts of the country.

“We wish to address those that are still undertaking road blockades to desist from doing so because it is the poor, vulnerable and the marginalised who will suffer as a result of their actions.

“The impact of the looters actions will be felt more by the poor and the middle class as many more people stand a chance to lose their livelihoods,” the Minister said.

Ministers in the Economic and Infrastructure Cluster have been working with various industries to ensure the restoration of supply chains, movement of goods and the restoration of ports operations.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJOINTS) is also working tirelessly to ensure the reopening of the N2 and N3 to ensure the movement of goods.

Government has thanked community members who have started with clean up operations in the places that were destroyed and vandalised.

“We are also encouraged by members of the community who are volunteering to ensure the country gets back to normal and economic activities resumes as soon as possible.

“We call upon various sectors who provide support services to the vulnerable members of society to work with government to ensure that no one goes hungry during these difficult times. The Social Cluster has started various support programmes to ensure that affected communities get the support they need,” the Minister said.

Government has extended condolences to those who have lost their lives during the violent protests and looting.