Durban - KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Sihle Zikalala has called for calm as protests continued to affect the province over the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma.
Zikalala said the protests were damaging the economy and they should come to an end.
The province was on Friday the site of numerous protests on major roads – including the N2 and N3 highways – with protestors calling for the immediate release of the incarcerated Zuma.
Protest action unfolded from Friday morning in several parts of the province.
The protests, themed on social media as the #FreeJacobZuma and #KZNShutdown, erupted in parts of Durban, KwaDukuza and Mtubatuba on the north coast, as well as in Umgababa, South Coast of the province, where trucks blocked the roads with debris.
On the N2 and the N3 highways, piles of sand and stone were strewn across the roads leading to traffic congestion which the provincial government said also led to the destruction of property running into millions.
On Friday, Zikalala called for calm and maximum adherence to the rule of law amid growing threats to shut down the province through violent protests.
“This morning the province experienced a number of scattered attempts to bring the province to a grinding halt as major roads and highways including the N2 and N3 were targeted. The M7 which is a strategic cargo transit route to the Port of Durban and other provincial and municipal links were also affected.
“Several vehicles were reportedly stoned and millions worth of public infrastructure damaged resulting in many commuters not being able to reach their places of work,” Zikalala said.
He said that the police had developed a comprehensive multi-disciplinary provincial security plan and all law enforcement agencies were on high alert as they attended to “this unfortunate and unlawful situation taking place in the province”.
“It is believed that those behind the protests are people that are opposed to the incarceration of the former president of the republic, His Excellency Jacob Zuma,” Zikalala said.
He called for utmost discipline and for protesters to express their anger through legitimate and peaceful platforms.
“We understand the extreme anger of the people who are protesting. As a country and province we find ourselves in a very unusual and unique situation wherein we are dealing with the arrest of a former president of the ANC and the country.
“We are, therefore dealing with very challenging times. However, we call on those who are protesting to do so through peaceful means and to avoid violence and destruction at all costs.”