Over 757 people have over the past five days been arrested for the wanton destruction and looting of businesses and properties.
Of these, 304 were arrested in KwaZulu-Natal while 453 were nabbed in Gauteng.
This was on Tuesday revealed by Ministers in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster during a press briefing amid violence in the two provinces.
Ministers in the cluster have over the past two days met to discuss the reports received from the Joint Operations Committee (JOCOM) of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and State Security.
These reports included critical intelligence information from the State Security Agency (SSA), South African Police Crime and Defence Intelligence. The intelligence information has provided timeous, critical and sometimes unique analysis information to give early warning signs of potential risks and dangers.
“The law enforcement officers have used this intelligence information in responding with speed to the issues on the ground and attending to areas which have been identified as potential hotpot areas,” said Police Minister Bheki Cele, speaking on behalf of the cluster.
He said Ministers were satisfied with the reports they had received and were confident that law enforcement agencies were able to do their job effectively.
He said of grave concern was the loss of lives that has accompanied the incidents of violence and destruction to property. Ten people have been killed in the two provinces.
“In all our operations, we still have the responsibility to save lives. The current situation on the ground is under strong surveillance and we will ensure that it does not deteriorate any further. We cannot allow anyone to make a mockery of our democratic state and we have instructed the law enforcement agencies to double their efforts the stop the violence and to increase deployment on the ground,” he said.
The cluster has called for an immediate end to this violence, looting and the disregard of the law and call for an immediate return to peace and stability.
The Ministers said they were encouraged and heartened by the outpouring of messages from South Africans saying their shops, malls, taxis, trucks and other transport infrastructure will not be destroyed in their name.
“These messages of support echo the attitude of our country that this infrastructure is the life-blood of our society and economy.
“Without these we cannot hope to grow our economy, ensure we all have food and fuel and can go about our daily lives toward the goal of prosperity for all.”
Cele said South Africa was a democratic state governed by the Constitution.
While South Africa’s Constitution guarantees the right of every person to protest, to organise, and to engage in free expression and free association, this should not infringe on the rights of others who may not want to protest.
“No amount of unhappiness or personal circumstances from our people, gives the right to anyone to loot, vandalise and do as they please and break the law.
“We call on the communities to exercise restraint in dealing with the situation and above all ensure that innocent civilians are not harmed,” he said.
The JCPS further urged all communities and groups to reject any call for violence and making this country ungovernable.–SAnews