Police Minister, Bheki Cele, has called for an immediate end to the looting, vandalism and ongoing disregard for the law.
Violent protests have continued on Tuesday morning, with 757 arrests made since the start of the unrest.
Protestors took to the streets at the weekend, demanding the release of former president, Jacob Zuma, after his incarceration last week. The demonstrations have since morphed into mass looting and vandalism, mostly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
“The current situation on the ground is under strong surveillance and we will ensure that it does not deteriorate any further. We cannot allow anyone to make a mockery of our democratic state and we have instructed our law enforcement agencies to double their efforts to stop the violence and to increase deployment on the ground. We call for an immediate end to the looting and the disregard for the law and call for an immediate return for peace and stability,” Cele told journalists during a security cluster briefing.
The minister has also assured the public that the protest action will be contained to avoid a further deterioration of the situation, while also raising concern that the protests could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“The country is facing the COVID-19 pandemic and we are in the third wave which is fuelled by the Delta variant. For the mass protests that have ensued in parts of the country, there could be a rapid spread of the pandemic – causing a rapid rise in infections and affecting our ability as government to respond to it. Our health system is already under strain and the current development puts the lives of more South Africans at risk should the infections rise,” he said.
Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi on SANDF deployment in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal:
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has joined the Police Service in attempts to quell the riots.
“Our latest report indicates that a total of 757 people have been arrested. In KZN a total of 304 and in Gauteng 453 were arrested. Of concern is the loss of life that has accompanied the incidents of violence and disruption to property. The total number of fatalities that has been reported is 10 – 4 in KZN and 6 in Gauteng. Four police officers were injured while responding to the protests and are recovering well,” says Cele.
Security cluster media briefing on the unrest across the country: