JCPS assures South Africans of safety and security during upcoming national shutdown

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The Ministers of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) have assured South Africans that they will be protected during the planned national shutdown on Monday 20 March, with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on standby.

In a statement, the Cluster said it had noted the planned protest action called by some groupings as well as the mobilization undertaken in various communication platforms for members of the public to join the protest action.

“Government lauds residents and businesses who refuse to be intimidated or bullied,” the JCPS said, adding, “we want to assure everyone in the country that the 20th of March will be a normal business day. We want to reiterate to our international community that contrary to the pronouncements by those advocating for any disruption, all ports of entry – land, sea and air – will be operational.”

Measures have been put in place to ensure that everyone who wants to go to work, travel for leisure and conduct business on this day does so in a safe and secure environment, the JCPS said. “Law enforcement officers will be out in their numbers to protect them, whilst enforcing the law. Anyone who intimidates, stops anyone from going to work, barricades the roads and highways and uses any form of violence to try and stop our people from going on with their lives will face the full might of the law.”

During a media briefing on Thursday, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise said the South African National Defence Force is on standby.

The Cluster warned against the spreading of messages of fear, intimidation or inflammatory statements that could incite violence as this is a criminal offence. “We are aware of many social media accounts claiming that hundreds and thousands of followers are being mobilised to support the protest. The majority of communities and various sectors of society including SANTACO, National Taxi Association, the Road Freight Association and organized structures within communities, have rejected this call.”

High police visibility is expected and multidisciplinary deployments will be carried out through the NatJoints architecture. “The Security Cluster is fully prepared and will deal with any disruption caused by this protest action.”

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is pushing ahead with the national shutdown to highlight the loadshedding crisis and other issues and is calling for the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa. EFF leader Julius Malema also highlighted high unemployment, poor education, gender-based violence and other issues he wants citizens to rally against.

While there are no specific shutdown or protest locations earmarked, the EFF wants businesses across the country to shut down on Monday, and has warned shops and factories in many areas to close to avoid the danger of looting.