SAPS members monitor Queen Nandi Drive in the vicinity of Avoca after scores of people looted the Game Warehouse in Durban during the unrest in July in KZN and Gauteng. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)
SAPS members monitor Queen Nandi Drive in the vicinity of Avoca after scores of people looted the Game Warehouse in Durban during the unrest in July in KZN and Gauteng. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

KZN government leadership call for calm amid shutdown threats, law enforcement agencies are on high alert

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo, Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Aug 23, 2021

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DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Sihle Zikalala and eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda have moved to allay fears amid rumours of another shutdown today.

A poster, which has been shared widely, proclaimed there would be a national shutdown as well as a march through Durban today.

Zikalala called for calm and said as far as the government was concerned, today would be a normal working day.

“We call for calm as we are not aware of anyone who is authorised to carry out a shutdown of businesses tomorrow (today), or any other time. We advise employers and society, in general, to conduct their business as normal but exercise extra vigilance,” said Zikalala.

He added that the rumours were being taken very seriously and law-enforcement agencies were fully prepared to safeguard the right to life, freedom of movement, property and any other eventuality.

“We are in the process of economic recovery and rebuilding of the province following the recent civil unrest. We need to protect and save jobs and livelihoods of citizens. We must not be distracted from our mission, which is to reignite economic growth and to create much-needed jobs.”

Kaunda also moved to assure residents.

He said he had convened a meeting on Friday with the leadership of the city and heads of law-enforcement agencies to consolidate safety plans.

Kaunda said he was satisfied with the level of planning and called on members of the public to remain calm as police were “on top of the situation”.

However, while Zikalala and Kaunda moved to allay fears, in an intelligence briefing given to the provincial government, state security officials said truck drivers wanted to use the day to violently kick out foreign drivers.

They were referring to a long-standing issue in the industry where disgruntled local truck drivers have demanded that foreigners should not be employed as truck drivers. The issue has been linked to the torching of trucks in the province.

Palesa Phili, chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the country was in the process of rebuilding and sustaining economic recovery, and businesses could not afford to suffer additional losses.

She said that further harm to investor confidence in the province would impact on the rebuilding commitment made by businesses that were affected both directly and indirectly.

However, Phili encouraged businesses to remain open today but urged them to be on high alert. “We are working closely with law enforcement to ensure the situation is under control.”

She said law enforcement needed to make a clear commitment to the business community that such insurrection as occurred last month would never happen in the province again.

“We need law enforcement to work closely with business owners to ensure minimum disruption, we need more law enforcement visibility to ensure the business community feels safe.”

The Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business chief executive Melanie Veness said it was uncertain what the week held, but it was best for business communities to be vigilant and prepared.

Veness said the business community had been reassured that the SAPS in the province were ready for any eventuality and had appropriate response plans in place.

“It goes without saying that a reoccurrence of the economic devastation that occurred recently will have a catastrophic impact on our already decimated economy, negatively impacting recovery, jobs and investment,” said Veness.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) said law enforcement agencies were on high alert and measures had been put in place to ensure safety and security.

THE MERCURY

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