Looters make off with stolen goods from a store in Germiston. File photo: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe.

PARLIAMENT - DA MP Andrew Whitfield on Tuesday urged Police Minister Bheki Cele to use section 13 (7) of the Police Service Act to conduct cordon and search operations in areas afflicted by xenophobic violence.

Whitfield reminded the National Assembly that this section of the law would allow the police to cordon off an area for 24 hours to conduct exhaustive searches. 

He made the call in the legislature's debate on the ongoing spate of xenophobic violence that spread from Pretoria to Johannesburg and has claimed 12 lives.

The law allows national or provincial commissioners to declare such search operations, including without a warrant, where "it is reasonable in the circumstances to restore public order or to ensure the safety of the public in a particular area".

Whitfield said this must be coupled with efforts to strengthen crime intelligence that could give early warning of this type of violence breaking out.

Better crime intelligence was crucial to restoring confidence in the police and among the police officers on the ground, he added.

Whitfield also urged the police to give regular updates on the current situation, saying: "This will go a long way in fighting the spread of fake news."

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald also urged a concerted effort from the police to end the spiralling violence that has drawn condemnation from African diplomatic missions in South Africa and retaliatory attacks on South African businesses in fellow African states.

Groenewald said he was imploring Cele to bring back specialised police units, notably murder and robbery units.

Criminals should note that they would be brought to book for their deeds, he said.

African News Agency (ANA)