KZN residents stand up to looters
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Communities have begun mobilising to protect their neighbourhoods as violent protests and looting intensified in KwaZulu-Natal
DURBAN - COMMUNITIES have begun mobilising to protect their neighbourhoods as violent protests and looting intensified in KwaZulu-Natal.
Tthe South African Community Crime Watch (SACCW) said the SANDF could help ease the pressure on police and private security companies.
The SANDF’s Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said they would assist law enforcement agencies deployed in Gauteng and KZN to quell the unrest.
Spokesperson for the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) Wayne Duvenage, called on the government to act swiftly and use all available resources to control and bring to book looters.
“The country should not be held to ransom by anyone who believes that anarchy and destruction of property is the right way to counter decisions taken by our Constitutional Court.
“Such violent protests are further fuelled by anger over poor service delivery and the ongoing failure of government at all levels to recognise and address peaceful protests. This is no way to run a country or attract investors, create jobs and build a nation’s prosperity," Duvenage said.
Videos have been circulating on social media of looting frenzies at shopping malls and stores. The videos also show communities mobilising on street corners in anticipation of attacks in their neighbourhoods.
SACCW KZN spokesperson Steven King said the Community Policing Forums and Neighbourhood Watches could “only do so much”.
"According to legislation they do not have the right to patrol, with the lockdown restrictions imposing further problems. What do they do? The police are stretched and under-resourced. From what we have seen communities are trying to protect themselves. They are standing their ground. It is wild out there. People are scared of looting in their homes."
King said looters were strategic, opportunistic, worked in clusters and were organised. He said the SANDF was deployed after the country lost billions of rands in potential investments.
The centre management of uMlazi Mega City said there was extensive damage to the mall. They will re-open after assessing the damage. Donald Mclellan, national marketing manager, said criminal offences of this nature would have a severe impact on the economy.
Meanwhile, Durban Transport, privately-owned bus companies and minibus taxis in KZN halted their services indefinitely from Monday. The eThekwini Municipality said this was a result of the civil unrest. Residents could expect other service delivery interruptions over the next few days.
South African National Taxi Council spokesperson Sifiso Shangase said minibus taxis could not operate because of the threat to driver safety. He said the protesters had blocked roads with tyres and debris. Shangase said major towns in the province were affected but if the situation normalised, taxi services would resume.
eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said Metro Police, Emergency and Fire Services would continue to maintain high visibility in all areas and hot spots. Kaunda said they had activated community crime-fighting structures to be the police’s eyes and ears on the ground.
“Our Metro Police were able to pro-actively prevent some of the incidents because of the strong collaboration we have with community structures and the CCTV cameras we have deployed throughout the city,” said Kaunda.
Referring to videos circulating of Metro police officers loading items into the back of their van, Kaunda said the officers were not looting, but rather confiscating the goods from looters. Kaunda said the recovered items abandoned by criminal elements had been logged in the SAPS register. On Monday, parts of the N3 Toll route remained closed in both directions, from Harrismith in the Free State to Cedara in KZN.