Mop up starts in Gauteng

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Days after violent protests engulfed parts of the country, the situation in Gauteng stabilised with clean-up operations to vandalised facilities starting.

“We are pleased with reports Gauteng is largely calm with fewer incidents overnight and so far, only six reported. This is largely due to increased deployment of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), SA Police Service (SAPS) and Metro Police in areas identified as potential hotspots,” acting Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said.

Providing an update on ongoing violent protests, she said the situation in KwaZulu-Natal remains volatile but is moving toward stability.

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

“Last night and today we arrested 139 people, for a cumulative total of 725 arrests in Gauteng.

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

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

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

Fatalities linked to the violence are 91.

“SAPS Provincial Commissioners activated Sub-Social Crime Prevention Strategies and engaged with stakeholders to amplify current operational plans to best tackle looting and destruction of property,” the Minister said.

As regards the deployment of 25 000 soldiers, 10 000 were on the ground as of Thursday.

Government expressed concern about reports of racial tensions in areas including Phoenix in Durban.

“Ministers  visited the area and engaged stakeholders to resolve racial tensions. SAPS and the SANDF are deployed to restore law and order,” the Minister said.

She called on communities to bridge racial barriers and work toward a common goal of protecting South Africa.

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

She said people 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 the public are at loggerheads with the law after attempts to protect their communities, properties and their own lives. We plead 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.

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

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

The SANDF is deployed to protect the national key points and police provide escorts for transport of supplies including oxygen, medicines and key goods for other parts of the country.

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

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

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

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

Government thanked community members who started clean-up operations in destroyed and vandalised places.

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

“We call on sectors providing support services to vulnerable members of society to work with government to ensure no one goes hungry during these difficult times. The Social Cluster started support programmes to ensure affected communities receive the support they need,” the Minister said.