‘King’s statements had SAPS on alert’

2015-04-22 00:00

CAPE TOWN — King Good Zwelinthini’s statements about foreigners had the police immediately on alert, MPs heard yesterday.

Lieutenant-General Bongiwe Zulu, the deputy national commissioner, said the SAPS crime intelligence unit prepared for the worst as soon as they heard what the king said in Pongola.

Police countrywide were ordered to immediately report any attacks, and crime intelligence was instructed ordered to watch the situation. The State Security Agency (SSA) was also asked to help.

MPs in the police portfolio committee were surprised to hear this, as the government and President Jacob Zuma have so far refused to say that the king’s statements might have sparked the current wave of xenophobic attacks.

Dr Pieter Groenewald of the Freedom Front Plus asked if the SAPS admitted Zwelithini’s words were the trigger.

At this, national commissioner General Riah Phiyega took the microphone to say: “The king is on record setting his sentiment right. We are not judges in the case.” She said the police were supposed to manage instabilty, not speculate on causes.

The police constantly keep watch on anti-foreigner sentiment, which she said this is driven by economic factors, as owners of small shops ­contend for space to operate.

Groenewald accused her of ­evading his question.

The DA’s Dianne Kohler Barnard said it was clear Zulu had told the truth and Phiyega had intervened to protect the king.

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