Durban — Members of eThekwini Neighbourhood Watch, a community-based crime-fighting structure in Durban townships, and the police are on high alert in anticipation of any criminal elements that might crop up in today’s (Monday’s) planned national shutdown called for by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
The EFF’s national shutdown has caused panic and has led some businesses to close for the day.
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said: “We don’t have SAPS members at every corner, but if we use what we have strategically, we will win,” Mkhwanazi said.
He urged people not to damage property when they march.
Police Minister Bheki Cele hailed KwaMashu SAPS for its efforts to rope in amakhosi to go and talk to the people in hostels to curb criminality.
Cele was speaking at KwaMashu police station in a briefing with amakhosi during an assessment of the province’s readiness for the shutdown.
The assessment held on Saturday involved visiting hot spots which included KwaMashu, Phoenix, Springfield (Makro) and Umlazi (Mega City Mall). Roadblocks were also held.
Cele said he was considering implementing the involvement of amakhosi in crimefighting countrywide.
He said people had the right to protest peacefully but not infringe on other people’s rights. He added that it was okay for people not to participate in a march.
eThekwini Neighbourhood Watch chairperson Andile Jali said: “Our major concern is the possible looting and vandalism suspected to take place during this March. After the July 2021 unrest, we formed this neighbourhood structure and made a promise to our communities that we would stand up and protect them from such acts in the future. That’s a promise we wish never to break.”
He said that for eThekwini Neighbourhood Watch, this march hits home as the structure’s formation was due to the devastation caused by the week of looting that took place in July of 2021 which left many neighbourhoods with severely damaged businesses and infrastructure.
Chatsworth CPF chairperson Yugan Pillay said Monday was business as usual.
“Under no circumstances should the freedom of movement of all our Chatsworth residents be hampered or stopped in any way,” Yugan said.
Merewent CPF chairperson Charlene Houghton said that the CPF was committed to ensuring the safety of the community it serves.
Malvern CPF chairperson Kevin Pillay said Malvern residents and businesses can rest assured that it will be business as usual across Malvern.
“We have been in contact with the relevant role-players and can assure the public that we treat all these reports as serious. Our law enforcement and CPF have a plan of readiness and will act accordingly should the need arise …” Kevin said.
Following incidents of tyres being dumped in various areas, eThekwini Municipality issued a statement saying its laws remained intact and enforceable.
“The illegal dumping of rubble (tyres etc) on road sides is in violation of our by-laws. It is important to reiterate that the Durban Metro Police Service will not tolerate any acts of criminality within the eThekwini Municipality, this includes the burning of tyres and the unlawful obstruction of traffic flow.”
The City said Durban Metro Police remain committed to law enforcement and the protection of the rights and freedoms of all South Africans. Tyres were removed from Mary Thipe and uMlazi Mega City.
Private security companies also said they were ready for the shutdown.
Marshall Security said: “We have been paying very close attention to all the buzz regarding the protest action that is supposedly going down on Monday, so rest assured … we’re trained. We’re primed. We’re ready.”
The company also urged people to make the right choices and keep an eye on “our” social feeds, WhatsApp community groups and neighbourhood watches.
Pro Secure said it was working closely with law enforcement agencies and community policing forums to ensure it keeps communities safe.
PT Alarms Fire and Security said it has strategic operational teams in place to keep its clients and the community safe.
On Saturday, metro police spokesperson Colonel Boysie Zungu said the right to peacefully demonstrate is enshrined in section 17 of the Constitution, provided those demonstrations are done peacefully and participants are unarmed.
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