Media release

Updating the nation on the security situation prevailing in the country by the Minister in the Presidency (Acting), Ms Khumbudzo Ntshavheni

16 July 2021

15 July 2021

Fellow South Africans and members of the media

Since the media briefing of yesterday afternoon, there have been a number of developments with the regard to the security situation mainly in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. We are pleased with the reports that the Gauteng province is largely calm and there have been fewer incidents overnight (6). This has been largely due to increased deployment of the SANDF, SAPS members and metro police in areas which have been identified as potential “hotspots”. Arrested 139 additional with cumulative total of 725 arrests.  To date, the SAPS have received reports of 26 deaths cumulatively in Gauteng related to the violence, however six (6) bodies were discovered on the roof of Thembisa South mall in Thembisa and inquest has been opened. The communities in Gauteng supporting the Metro municipalities have also started with clean-up campaigns of vandalized facilities.

The situation in KZN remains volatile but much improved towards stability. Overnight to over 2 hours ago, 39 of incidents have been reported and 392 additional arrests which cumulatively arrests are 1478. Reported deaths that have been verified as linked to the violence are cumulatively 91 in KZN. The Provincial Commissioners of the SAPS have, in the meantime, activated the SAPS social crime prevention strategy and have been engaging with various stakeholders including community based organisations, traditional leaders and the business community in order to amplify current operational plans to best tackle the looting and destruction of property currently prevalent in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng Provinces. The Government would like to commend the collaboration between the police and community through established platforms such as Community Policing Forums and Community in Blue.

We also note that there are reports of some armed community members brandishing firearms and/or dangerous weapons publicly in an apparent retaliation against perpetrators of the public violence. Government would like to caution the public that although persons are entitled to protect their property and lives, as long as this done in a manner that everyone's right to life is protected as provided for in our Constitution; and can only be infringed in extremely limited circumstances, in order to, inter alia, protect the life or bodily integrity of the defender. We don’t want a situation where members of the public are at logger-heads with the law after such a noble effort.

The Ministers in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Safety (JCPS) Cluster are currently in KwaZulu-Natal and working with the Provincial Government under the leadership of Premier Zikalala to assess and monitor the situation on the ground and attend to arising issues. Of concern to us as Government are the reports of racial tensions in areas such as Phoenix, Durban.  The Ministers have visited the area and engage various stakeholders to resolve racial tensions. Furthermore, members of the SANDF and the SAPS have been deployed in the area to restore law and order in the area.   We call all South Africans involved in the altercations to bridge the racial barriers and work together towards a common goal of protecting South Africa.

Government is also concerned about the economic impact of the violence, looting and destruction of infrastructure. Over the past few days, the main routes have been blocked by protesters with stones and other dangerous items. Of key concern is the effect on the supply chain value-chain and movement of goods from Durban and Richards Bay ports to various destinations.  The members of the SANDF have been deployed specifically to protect the national key points and SAPS are providing escorts for the transportation of the supplies of oxygen, medicines and other key goods that have to reach all parts of the country.

We wish to address those who are still undertaking the road blockage to desist from doing so because it is the poor, vulnerable and marginalized who will suffer as a result of their actions.  The impact of the looter’s actions will be felt more by the poor and middle class as many people stand a chance of losing their livelihoods.

Ministers of the Economic and Infrastructure Cluster are have been working with industry to ensure the restoration of supply value chains, movements of goods and  restoration of ports operations. The NATJOINTS is working tirelessly to ensure the reopening on the N2 and N3 to ensure the movement of goods.

We also would like to thank the community members who have started the clean-up operations in places, which were destroyed and vandalized.  We are also encouraged by members of the community members volunteering to put their hands on deck to ensure that the country is back to normal and economic activity resumes as soon as possible.

These members of the community are true patriots and they take pride in their country.

We call upon various sectors who provide support services to the vulnerable members of the society to join hands and work with Government to ensure that no one goes hungry during this difficult time.  The Social Cluster has started various support programmes to ensure that the affected communities get the support they need. We would like to extend government’s appreciation to members of the public across various sectors who have offered to contribute to ensuring that the vulnerable do not go hungry.

In conclusion, Government extends messages of condolences for those who have lost their lives during these violent protests and looting irrespective of the circumstance under which these lives have been lost. The loss of lives is regrettable.   

We have already received some questions on the deployment of 25,000 soldiers. The specifics are that by this morning 10,000 boots were already on ground by early this morning which is an increment from 5000 of yesterday morning. This largest internal deployment of the SANDF was for them to assist with the management of our first phase of COVID-19 Disaster Management.
Of the 12 alleged instigators, one (01) is in custody and the SAPS tracking team has increased the surveillance of the remaining 11.
We thank you.      

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