DURBAN - A KwaZulu-Natal security expert has appealed to the public not to panic but rather to create a plan of action as messages of further civil unrest circulate on social media.
This follows last week’s criminal looting and destruction of property that held the province hostage in the midst of an extended adjusted level 4 lockdown. Residents were left scrambling to purchase essential food items as stores ran out of stock
The Mercury reported today that messages and voice notes circulated at the weekend. In one voice note, a man is heard telling people to burn more infrastructure, including courts, to ensure that people bring the province to a standstill.
Shaheen Suleiman, the owner of Magma Security & Investigations, said he was inundated with calls and messages seeking information regarding the many voice notes and messages doing the rounds on social media of possible further unrest.
In response, Suleiman issued a statement commending the public for their strength and resilience.
“This is an unprecedented time for us and I would like to just commend you all for the strength and resilience that you have shown over the last week, coming together to protect your loved ones and property as well as to get food and necessities to those in need.”
He urged residents not to panic in the days ahead.
“Do not panic as this breeds rash and sometimes ill-considered reactions and responses. This does not mean that you should let your guard down.
“On the contrary, prepare yourself and your family. Put together an emergency evacuation kit with essentials should you need to leave your home in a hurry. Have emergency contact details on hand.”
Suleiman advised residents to work with neighbours, their communities together with law enforcement agencies to create a strategic plan of action should the need arise.
“I am aware that in most areas this has already been effected with neighbourhood patrols and WhatsApp and Zello groups formed. These should be primarily for the purpose of pertinent communication and hence should be separate from your normal community chat groups.”
He reminded residents that neighbourhood road blocks could only be used to monitor and not to deny or restrict access.
Should there be any questionable or suspicious activity this should be reported to law enforcement, he said.
Suleiman also appealed to the public to use their discretion when circulating messages on social media and to avoid spreading information that was unconfirmed or which might incite unnecessary panic and hysteria.
“Most importantly, remember that we need to come together, work together and achieve together to defend our family, property, our communities and our country.
“To this end, do not take the law into your own hands or engage in any form of vigilantism, do not engage in racial profiling. This is not about colour, this is about criminality. This is not a time for division, this is a time to stand together and conquer the threats to our safety and security as a nation.”
KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said the provincial government was aware of the threats and had put security measures in place.
Zikalala, who was speaking on eNCA, said this was to ensure that any further disruptions or protests that might lead to violence were averted.
“We have the army that has been deployed throughout the province. The police are also on the ground to ensure that they work in townships and rural areas. All in all, we can confirm that we are ready,” he said.
Zikalala said more equipment would be provided to the police to help disperse crowds.