Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Pretoria: Following the wave of looting and property destruction in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, President Cyril Ramaphosa is this morning meeting political party leaders in a bid to quell the public violence and unrest.

President Ramaphosa has embarked on a round of consultations with the leadership of different sectors of society to develop a society-wide response to the violence and destruction of property.

The outreach supplements the mobilisation of the South African Police Service (SAPS), the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and other law enforcement agencies.

On Monday, government Ministers engaged with business leadership on the situation in the country and agreed on several areas of cooperation.

On Tuesday, President Ramaphosa chaired the meeting of the National Security Council to assess developments around the country and coordinate government’s security response, including intelligence gathering to the widespread criminality.

In the evening, the President, accompanied by several Ministers, met with religious leaders from the different faith communities.

The leaders expressed support for government’s efforts in bringing stability to a number of areas where incidents of unrest are  taking place.

The religious leaders supported the deployment of the SANDF to support the police in stabilising the situation, and also called for a comprehensive response to the societal conditions enabling the events unfolding.

Government leaders are also engaging with informal and small business associations, community leaders, traditional leaders and others, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

During yesterday’s evening meeting, religious leaders urged government to consider allowing communities of faith to gather for worship, while observing COVID-19 health regulations, as part of the national effort to restore calm and provide counselling to communities.

President Ramaphosa welcomed the concern expressed by interfaith leaders with regard to events ufolding in the country and welcomed a proposal for a national day of prayer.

Among the developments yesterday, the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster indicated that all law enforcement and security agencies, including metro and traffic police,  are working together to ensure public order policing, patrolling in identified hotspots and protecting key public and private infrastructure targeted by the perpetrators of violence.

These law enforcement agencies have also been tasked to protect COVID-19 vaccine storage sites, schools and clinics where vaccinations are currently being rolled out.

As at 13h00 on Tuesday, 1 230 suspects had been arrested in connection with public violence and looting.

In KwaZulu-Natal, 547 suspects have been arrested, while 683 suspects are in custody in Gauteng.

The Minister of Police, Bheki Cele and Acting Minister of Health, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, separately visited Alexandra in Johannesburg to assess the situation on the ground.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is putting together a team of special prosecutors, which has been instructed to oppose bail for suspects associated with public violence and economic sabotage.

The law enforcement agencies have also been tasked to enforce the Disaster Management Act Regulations, especially ensuring observance of the curfew, which is from 9pm to 4am daily.

Communities are urged to report any criminal incidences to the SAPS hotline on 08600 10111.