Authorities arrest 87 protestors during national shutdown

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Law enforcement officers through the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS), have arrested 87 protestors across South Africa for public violence related offences.

The arrests follow the announcement by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that they will be taking to the streets in a planned national shutdown on Monday 20 March and have called on all South Africans to participate.

In a statement released on Monday morning, the NATJOINTS said in the last 12 hours 41 people were arrested in Gauteng, 29 in North West, and 15 in the Free State.

“Since the beginning of the integrated deployments, the NATJOINTS together with the respective Provjoints have been monitoring the situation closely to prevent and combat any acts of lawlessness and criminality,” the NATJOINTS said.

At least 24 300 tyres have been confiscated by law enforcement agencies. These were tyres that were strategically placed for acts of criminality.

About 6 000 tyres were seized in the Western Cape, 4 500 in the Free State, 3 600 in Gauteng, 1 513 in the Eastern Cape and a few in other provinces.

“The NATJOINTS re-affirms its commitment to serving and protecting both law abiding protestors and non-protestors. The NATJOINTS will not allow and tolerate any forms of lawlessness and acts of criminality. Anyone found to be contravening the law will be dealt with accordingly.

“Law enforcement officers are on high alert and will continue to prevent and combat any acts of criminality, maintain public order, protect the inhabitants of South Africa and their property as well as uphold and enforce the law,” the NATJOINTS said.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said it is business as usual on Monday with people commuting to work despite the planned national shutdown.

“There has been a few incidents few but I saw nothing indicating a shutdown because a shutdown is when life stops, that is how it is organized. The situation been normal I checked eThekwini life is normal and I checked Cape Town, life is normal,” the Minister said.

Addressing members of the media in Soweto, Cele said that police had responded to a few incidents where people attempted to break the law.

The Minister was visiting families that were affected by public violence and malicious damage to property after an explosion caused damage to a house in Pimville, Soweto. There were injuries that were reported as a result of the incident.

“Clearly, there is thuggery and criminality. The damage seems to be significant and it does look like the explosion was powerful. We hope the police will be able to find the perpetrators. We are taking the matter seriously, that is why our forensic people and Hawks are here,” Cele said.