Pretoria – In the wake of the violent protests in Tshwane, government has called for calm and for people to continue with their normal businesses.
At a media briefing by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster on Tuesday afternoon, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said government is responding adequately to the situation.
“We have noted the criminal elements who have taken advantage of the situation by disrupting the socio-economic activities which has led to the closure of certain businesses.
“No public space will be turned into a no-go area. Government reiterates that any form of intimidation or looting by protestors will not be tolerated,” said the Minister.
She said government is closely monitoring the situation.
This comes as protests erupted in the capital city on Monday.
Several buses were torched overnight in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria. In Atteridgeville, two trucks and a bus were also set alight while shops were looted.
The N1 Carousel Plaza was closed at both lanes this morning, while many commuters struggled to get to and from work.
A delegation comprising State Security Minister David Mahlobo, Minister Mapisa-Nqakula and Gauteng Premier David Makhura and senior government officials earlier visited Atteridgeville, Hammanskraal and Mamelodi.
“Government has condemned and continues to condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and the destruction of property which occurred in these areas.
“Violence, damage to property and infrastructure and infringing on others’ rights and free movement including incitement of others to commit this type of offences will not be tolerated by law enforcement agencies.
“Those who make themselves guilty of such acts will face the full might of the law,” said the Defence Minister, who is Chairperson of the Cluster.
Government has increased visible policing of members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and will continue to monitor hotspots. Law enforcement agencies are working to ensure calm returns to all areas.
“Criminal matters arising out of these incidents are being prioritised, among others DPCI and courts will be prioritised so that matters can be dealt with speedily.
“Approximately 20 cases are under investigation and so far some arrests have been made and some are in court,” said the Minister.
She said security personnel will act decisively against individuals who engage in acts of intimidation and incitement or violence, adding that law enforcement agencies will not hesitate to arrest those who are found to have contravened the law.
The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster, she said, is working in a coordinated manner to ensure that all relevant state institutions respond adequately to the situation.
The public has been called to be vigilant and avoid any violence-related activities.
“We also call on all people not to allow themselves to be misled by a lot of misinformation circulating on social media and other platforms which are intended to cause confusion and unnecessary panic. We will make the official announcement as and when is necessary,” said the Minister.
She called on residents to explore democratic avenues to have their grievances addressed.
“We therefore call on communities to raise grievances within the confines of the law. Those who ultimately decide to exercise their right to protest are advised to do so in a peaceful and orderly manner.”
The Minister thanked the law enforcement agencies for their quick reaction to contain the situation and continued assistance in stabilising the affected areas.
Responding to a question on whether government was considering the deployment of the SANDF, she said the situation is assessed on an ongoing basis and they cannot be deployed until all options are exhausted.
Minister Mahlobo dismissed the so-called “red alert” which is making the rounds on social media, saying it is a hoax which will only cause panic. The SMS is believed to say that the violence will be escalated to other areas, including the CBD.
If there is any threat, only government can and will communicate the message, said the Minister, adding that an official communique will be issued on official government platforms.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura assured that everything is being done to ensure there are no further disruptions.
“If there is any disruption anywhere we will descend on it. We will act firmly without fear or favour, regardless of which party the perpetrators are from.”
Communities and individuals were urged to express their dissatisfaction through a number of constructive platforms.
These include public participation forums, Izimbizo, public hearings and other democratic processes. Those who ultimately decide to exercise their right to protest were advised to do so in a non-violent manner.