Phiyega’s plan for xenophobic attacks
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Johannesburg - National police boss General Riah Phiyega has vowed to close the net on xenophobic violence through the establishment of joint operational centres.
In a statement released on Thursday morning, Phiyega said all the relevant roleplayers at the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) reported for duty.
“The centre from where they are operating will be running on a 24-hour basis in order to co-ordinate law enforcement’s response to the current wave of violent attacks on foreign nationals,” she said.
She commended the way different provinces had responded to the unrest. “To improve our intelligence capacity, we have deployed additional operatives on the ground to gather information and assess its validity, to direct our operational response.
“While we appreciate that there are tensions in various parts of the country between some locals and foreign nationals, lawlessness will not be tolerated. We will continue to arrest and bring those involved in criminal acts to book,” Phiyega warned.
NATJOINTS, the operational arm of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster comprising of various government departments and intelligence agencies, called for calm and appealed to members of the public not to distribute unverified information about possible attacks, as this only serves to instigate fear.
Phiyega called on community leaders to urge their followers to distance themselves from these attacks.
On Wednesday, Phiyega also assured the country that all police provincial structures have been put on alert in case xenophobic violence escalates to other provinces.
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the portfolio committee on police in Parliament on the SAPS’s budget on Thursday, Phiyega said police had enough resources to contain any flare-ups.
She said the situation in Durban was being managed, after they deployed an additional 800 officers in the city.
While patterns of violent outbreaks moved from one area to the next, the police were managing to stabilise the affected communities.
“The other thing we cannot rule out, we listen to intelligence,” Phiyega said on Wednesday. The information had helped the police to identify potential flashpoints.
“All provinces are on alert,” she said.
“We are doing our best to save lives,” Phiyega added.
She denied that the situation was getting out of control in Durban, adding that the SAPS did not have capacity problems.
She said they were using police officers from KwaZulu-Natal and outside the province to deal with the situation.
When deploying police officers, they would adopt the same approach that they used in Soweto during the recent spate of attacks against foreigners, she said.
“In addition, we have trained (law enforcement officers in many metros. We have trained about 1 000 metro police officers to stem this type of violence.”
Metro police officers in eThekwini had had the necessary training, Phiyega explained.
She denied that the police were not on top of the situation. “It’s a migration issue. Whereas it (the violent attacks) started in Isipingo, Isipingo is not on fire now, (but) it is migrating to the Durban CBD,” she said. And the police had quelled the situation in KwaMashu and Chatsworth, she added.
Meanwhile, six people were arrested in connection with the looting of foreign owned shops in Jeppestown in the Johannesburg CBD, police said on Thursday.
“There was a flare-up of violent attacks and looting in Jeppestown. Six male suspects have been arrested for public violence and housebreaking. The suspects allegedly broke into foreigners’ shops and two people were injured in the process,” said police spokesman Solomon Makgale.
The men were arrested at the Jeppe hostel.
Skirmishes broke out between foreign nationals and locals in the Johannesburg CBD as fears of possible xenophobic attacks swept through the city on Wednesday.
Two groups of people threw bricks at each other along Jeppe Street.
Shop owners closed their businesses for most of the day to avoid possible looting.
Over seventy people have been arrested in KwaZulu Natal in connection with the xenophobic violence that started a week ago in the province.
The suspects were charged with various offences including murder, public violence, business robbery, theft and possession of firearms and ammunition.
The Star and ANA