Western Cape police on Monday said they were unable to confirm reports that the closing down of Vangate Mall is due to “threats of violence”. It follows a video doing the rounds on social media to this affect and amid speculation that it is linked to ongoing “Pro Zuma” demonstrations elsewhere in the country.
Officials were deployed since Friday, after public violence erupted in KwaZulu-Natal and since spread to some parts of Gauteng. This as the Constitutional court is this morning hearing the 79-year-old’s application for a rescission of his 15-month jail sentence for being in contempt of court.
Meanwhile, AV Mohamed from the Jumuah Masjid in Grey Street, Durban, however says while demonstrations may have started with calls to release former President Jacob Zuma; it is become more opportunistic than political. According to Mohamed, roads were disrupted and businesses closed as various establishments and warehouses were looted and vandalised, while structures were also set alight. He was among numerous commentators who condemned the criminality:
“The political situation is the planting of the seed of this unrest. You have a right to voice of your opinion and (hold) peaceful protests, but we (cannot) accept the behaviour (of) burning trucks, property, creating fear and instability in the lives of citizens leading peaceful lives. The rule of law has to be applied, the police have to do their job. Mindful of the fact that many people are unemployed. It is the people that are living below the breadline and the criminal elements that have taken maximum opportunity.”
WC police spokesperson Joseph Swaartbooi appealed to the community to remain calm, urging the community to come forward if they have information:
“Please be advised that a decision was taken by the management of the mentioned mall, to not open their doors for business today. Athlone police members are in the area monitoring the situation in the case of any eventuality. We can confirm that no incidents of looting has been reported. Anyone with information of planned protests is urged to share the information with Crime Stop on 08600 10111.”
The City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security Directorate spokesperson Jp Smith also confirmed that the mall was closed as a precautionary measure.