Ministers from the justice, crime prevention and security (JCPS) cluster have strongly condemned the violent protests that have turned into the looting and criminality currently gripping the nation.
In a media briefing on Tuesday morning, the JCPS ministers said they wished to add their voices “to that of our president and the many law-abiding and peace-loving South Africans” in “strongly condemning the lawlessness, violence and destruction that is currently happening in certain areas of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, as reported in the media”.
“We call for an immediate end to this violence and looting and the disregard for the law, and call for an immediate return to peace and stability,” read the joint statement by JCPS ministers.
Police Minister Bheki Cele, National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula made up the panel of the JCPS ministers at the address.
Dlodlo confirmed during the briefing that the justice cluster was investigating information that people formerly in the State Security Agency linked to former president Jacob Zuma and certain senior members of the ANC were the ringleaders of the pro-Zuma anarchy.
Cele said various social media platforms were now being monitored in an effort to try to trace inflammatory posts fuelling violence.
According to the police minister, 757 people have now been arrested for public violence in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Dlodlo categorically refused to acknowledge that there was a spectacular failure in terms of State Security, instead saying the country’s intelligence had done what it could. “A lot of things have been averted because the machinery was working in overdrive.”
She added that, from the first day of these protests, her department had shared intelligence information with the police.
“We must understand that only so much can be done with the information; some is true, other not,” said Dlodlo. She was adamant that the police had done their best to quell the tension currently at a fever pitch. “The target was for us to move fast and we tried our best; we averted much more than what you see on national television.”
While in agreement with the fact that the situation had “gone out of hand”, Mapisa-Nqakula remained hesitant on whether it would be a correct call by President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a state of emergency.
The JCPS ministers were all in agreement that, while they were sympathetic towards citizens regarding the strain that Covid-19 had placed economically on the country, “no amount of unhappiness or personal circumstances gave the right to anyone to loot or vandalise”.
“As cluster ministers, we are encouraged and heartened by the outpouring of messages, also on social media platforms, by South Africans from all communities and walks of life, who are saying that the wanton destruction of property such as shops, malls, taxis, trucks and other transport infrastructure will not be destroyed in their name.
“These messages of support echo the attitude of our country that this infrastructure is the lifeblood of our society and economy. Without these, we cannot hope to grow our economy, ensure we all have food and fuel and can go about our daily lives towards the goal of prosperity for all,” read their joint statement.