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EFF Shutdown: Police ‘ready’ for Red Monday as Cele locked in meetings

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 16, 2023


Cape Town - Police Minister Bheki Cele met with the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) to discuss the EFF’s planned national shutdown on Monday, police committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson told MPs.

Though Joemat-Pettersson said this in the committee meeting, Cele’s spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said Cele had been locked in a Cabinet meeting since 8.30am on Wednesday.

However, she added that it was safe to say there would be a “briefing” today in relation to the matter from NatJoints and the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster.

Deputy Minister Cassel Mathale also told the committee meeting that national commissioner Fannie Masemola had left the virtual meeting – which discussed a planned new crime-fighting policy and, to a lesser degree, the national shutdown – to attend discussions about the shutdown.

The NatJoints, which comprises the State Security Agency, SAPS and SANDF, is responsible for safety and security involving all major protests, sporting, cultural and recreational events.

Joemat-Pettersson said: “Next item on the agenda will be a briefing on what we’re dealing with for next week Monday ... I know that the minister is in the NatJoints. Once we have some direction from the NatJoints, we will be able to further engage with the committee.”

So serious is the matter that Joemat-Pettersson and MPs are considering scheduling a physical committee meeting for Friday to discuss the upcoming national shutdown.

She asked Mathale to brief the committee without going into details about the SAPS’s operational plans, the details of which MPs will hear in Friday’s meeting.

Mathale said: “With regards to what has been happening, the strikes, labour resorted to different tactics to advance their agenda.

“(They) went beyond what is normally accepted (strike action). Police have interacted with that environment. And this has coincided with the calls that have been made by other political parties about wanting to shut down the country next week. They’ve engaged in different activities, which I think to a greater extent is related to the build-up towards next week.”

Mathale said there have been discussions “about what might likely happen” on Monday, and police had taken the necessary precautionary measures as the security cluster.

He said one JCPS meeting took place on Wednesday and the National Security Council also discussed plans.

“I think we’re ready to deal with the planned shutdown. We’ll be working around the clock. We have been working since the parties made the pronouncement (of the shutdown),” Mathale said.

Lieutenant-General Lineo Ntshiea echoed Masemola’s statement and said: “Just to give you comfort, as SAPS we’re ready to action our plan.”

ANC MP Albert Seabi thanked SAPS officials for promising to deal with the shutdown in a responsible manner.

EFF leader Julius Malema called a presser on Wednesday because “so many things had been said” about the shutdown. He reassured South Africans that the EFF – which calls for an end to load shedding, wants President Cyril Ramaphosa’s resignation and demands a myriad service delivery issues be set right – had taken every step to ensure there would be no looting by “making businesses aware” of the shutdown.

“Anyone who says we’re threatening violence isn’t telling the truth. All we did is to be nice to all the stakeholders because it’s in the nature and character of the EFF,” Malema said.

Malema said “no boy or girl” would stop him on March 20 and, if they tried, they’d “meet their maker”.

In a statement, the ANC said the planned shutdown was the “clearest demonstration” that the EFF wasn’t interested in building a cohesive nation.

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