Hundreds of protesters looting Jabulani Mall in Soweto. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)
Hundreds of protesters looting Jabulani Mall in Soweto. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Civil society calls for political leadership to help quell protests

By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons Time of article published Jul 12, 2021

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CIVIL society organisations and interests have called on political leaders to play their part in helping quell the violent protests that erupted in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

They also called on the law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned in clamping down on the small group of culprits.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said politicians needed to show leadership if the unruly conduct of protesters was to be stopped.

Outa chief executive Wayne Duvenage said peaceful protests were a democratic right, but violent protests should be firmly countered and addressed by the state.

“Our democracy has suffered a substantial absence of the rule of law for too long, which became embedded during the years of President Jacob Zuma’s administration.

“It is important that we work hard to restore the rule of law and protect the constitutional rights sought by the law-abiding majority of South Africans, to rebuild our nation and tackle the challenges that collectively face us,” Duvenage said.

“The country should not be held to ransom by anyone who believes that anarchy and destruction of property is the right way to counter decisions taken by our Constitutional Court,” he added.

AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel said faction fighting within the ANC had created the platform for what he termed “thuggery”.

“I think the vast majority of people who joined in are criminals. We call on the police to take strong action and act against those who are destructive.

“This is going to harm the economy, and everyone in the country will be affected in some way,” Kriel said.

He also said that when considering the size of the country’s population, one should bear in mind that it was a small group of people creating the turmoil.

They made the comments a day after President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation and stated that the “acts of violence are based on ethnic mobilisation”.

The Right 2 Know (R2K) campaign’s Thami Nkosi said it was incorrect for Ramaphosa to refer to the protests as ethnic mobilisation.

“It’s very unfortunate that the president made a comment like that. These are not only individuals from one ethnic group,” Nkosi said.

“This protest is not necessarily all about the detention of former president Jacob Zuma. People have lost jobs and they have no money and are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.

“We know with the scandal of the UIF, companies are not paying their employees. This proves social unrest. While some are criminal elements, there are those who are looting just to put food on the table,” Nkosi added.

Meanwhile, Cosatu said while the current events erupted following Zuma’s arrest, it was clear that criminal elements had opportunistically hijacked the protests and were using it to loot.

“This is also a reminder that the problem of unemployment and poverty is real in South Africa. Cosatu has been arguing for a long time that unemployment is a ticking time bomb that will explode in the face of policy-makers and decision-makers,” spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said.

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