Media release

Media briefing statement of National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) on planned protest action

17 March 2023

Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening!

In the last two weeks, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) which consists of various government departments led by the South African National Defence Force, the State Security Agency (SSA) and the South African Police Service, has been policing several protests that have been taking place in some parts of the country.

Police response to these protests, and how police have been managing the situation has been effective, with minimum incidents reported.

To this end, the NATJOINTS welcomes the labour unions withdrawal of the strike and the agreement reached to continue with wage negotiations.

We are here today as the operational layer of the JCPS Cluster, to update the nation on the security measures we have put in place, in our resolve to assert the authority of the State and more importantly, to allay the fears of our communities amidst the protest action planned for this coming Monday.

The NATJOINTS, working closely with our partners and stakeholders in the respective industries and sectors, have mobilised maximum resources to heighten police visibility with the aim of preventing and combatting any form of opportunistic crimes pre-, during and post the planned protest action.

The respective PROVJOINTS have activated provincial multi-disciplinary deployments and operations as of today. This is to ensure that there is no ill-intended disruption on the plans of those who have to work, travel, or study, or perform any other business at any point during this semi-long weekend.

The measures that have been put in place by the Security Cluster will enable businesses and services to operate, while government and all modes of transport services will be accessible to members of the public.

Security will also be heightened at all our ports of entry – land, sea, and air. We assure travellers into and out of the country that there is no need to panic. A word of caution to travellers that they might need to make provision for extra time factoring in security measure that will be in place to ensure the safety and security of everyone, including tourists.

As the NATJOINTS, we have a joint responsibility to protect everyone in our country and their property, including members of the international community. While every citizen has a right to protest, we want to reiterate that this right must be exercised in a manner that does not infringe on the rights of non-protesters. Prohibiting people's freedom of movement is a criminal offence. We will therefore enforce the law decisively in this regard.

Section 17 of the Constitution of the country demands of Law Enforcement Agencies to ensure that the right to picket and present petitions is not abused to the detriment of the stability of the country, and the safety of the people.

Section 16(2) further highlights that this freedom to picket does not extend to propaganda of war, incitement of imminent violence, and advocacy for hatred.

Also, in line with the Gatherings Act 205 of 1993, conveners and organisers of the planned protest action must ensure that the gathering at all times proceeds peacefully and in an orderly manner.

It is the organiser’s responsibility to ensure that their participants or supporters at the demonstration or gathering, abide by the law and that the laws of the country are observed and respected, with no related incidents of lawlessness taking place.

To this end, the NATJOINTS will not tolerate any lawlessness and any form of criminality, whichever way it manifests itself. It is therefore important to note that anyone who is found to be contravening the law will be dealt with accordingly.

The NATJOINTS will not allow any barricading of national, provincial and municipal roads. Public violence, the burning of tyres and placing of rocks and debris to blockade roads, as well as looting will not be allowed. The destruction of property whether it be private or public property, as well as business and economic sites, is against the law.

The NATJOINTS is also closely monitoring the situation and the social media mobilisation that is currently unfolding. Incitement of violence through any platforms including social media, as well as the sharing of inflammatory messages, are criminal offences according to the Cyber Crimes Act, where social media users can actually be charged for intimidation and incitement to commit violence.  

Therefore, members of the public are cautioned against spreading messages that seek to mobilise communities to shutdown roads, intimidate and incite violence, as well as messages encouraging damage to economic sites.

We have also noted instances where supposed mobilisation for the protest action has now extended into stores where our shoppers are going about their daily lives. We view such acts as not only provocative, but also as a deliberate attempt to instil fear and to bully businesses and shoppers into participating in the protest against their will.

We caution those behind these acts to refrain from instilling fear and from bullying our community members and businesses.

We are working closely with a multitude of key stakeholders in the fight against crime, including the private security industry that serves as our force multiplier, and our eyes and ears on the ground.

We call upon our communities to also work with us by distancing themselves from any acts of lawlessness, in the best interest of our country. We call on all people in South Africa to uphold the law and to say NO to any action aimed at breaking the country’s laws.

On Monday, most school children will be at home. The NATJOINTS encourages the youth of this country not to involve themselves in any form of criminality which could lead to them obtaining a criminal record, thus jeopardising their own ability to secure employment in the future.

We are encouraging our communities to report any wrongdoing and any suspicious activities to their nearest police stations or by calling the Crime Stop number 08600 10111. If you see something, say something timeously to ensure that we collectively take a stand against any wrongdoing.

Lastly, the NATJOINTS assures members of the public that enforcement of the law will be executed within relevant prescripts to ensure stability in the country.

This is our update to the country at large, that there will be no national shutdown. We know of a planned protest. To say there will be a national shut down is misleading. Everything from business to services will be fully functional and operational and accessible. We are not going to allow lawlessness and acts of criminality – those who are found to be on the wrong side of the law, will be dealt with accordingly.

The work of the NATJOINTS is cut out for us and as such, we are already on the ground and we are ready to respond to the call of duty.

Members of the media – it’s all systems go!

I thank you

Issued by GCIS on behalf of the The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS)

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