Parliament has commended the cooperation between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and South African National Defence Force (SANDF), which has led to the quelling of violence, destruction of property and vandalism of infrastructure in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Portfolio Committee on Police and the Joint Standing Committee on Defence undertook an oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday to assess the effectiveness and impact of the deployment plan of police and soldiers deployed in the province.
“The cooperation between the SAPS and SANDF is commendable, and has stymied a bad situation from escalating even further. Despite this, we remain concerned that the situation was left to deteriorate to the extent it had,” said Police Committee chairperson, Tina Joemat-Pettersson.
During the visit, the committees received a briefing from both Police Minister Bheki Cele and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
The committees acknowledged the return to calm in the province, but raised concern on the irreversible socio-economic damage caused by violence.
Co-Chairperson of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, Cyril Xaba, reiterated the committee’s call for communities to respect the rule of law and desist from engaging in any violent behaviour.
“Our economy is struggling and any violence, destruction of property and looting further drives our economy into the abyss,” Xaba said.
Racial tensions condemned
While commending the SAPS and SANDF intervention to stop the blockade into the Phoenix area, north of Durban, the committees condemned the racial profiling and wanton violence disguised as protection of property in the area.
“We also condemn in the strongest terms the killing and maiming of people in the area [and] unwarranted use of violence by private security companies in the area,” Joemat-Pettersson said.
The committees also welcomed the despatching of a team from the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) to assess the role played by private security companies in the tensions in the area.
They also welcomed the dispatching of a group of detectives from district and provincial offices to investigate violence in the area.
The committees also called for the finalisation of investigations to ensure the effective prosecution of perpetrators of violence. They further called for calm, and the spirit of Ubuntu and respect for the rule of law among different communities in the area.
A total of 138 murders were reportedly linked to the violence and looting in the province. The committees reiterated the calls to conclude investigations and effectively prosecute cases related to the violence, looting and destruction of critical economic infrastructure.
Strengthening crime intelligence community
Meanwhile, the committees called for strengthening of the crime intelligence community and better coordination between different segments of the intelligence apparatus, which is central to the prevention of crime.
“The lapses in intelligence are unacceptable and must be rectified urgently,” the committees said.
On Wednesday, the Portfolio Committee on Police will undertake an oversight visit to Gauteng to assess the effectiveness and impact of the deployment plan of the SAPS, which is executed to quell the violence, looting and distraction of property in the province.