By Jonk wa Mashamba
With the recent deployment of the Defence Force members and the augmentation of law enforcement officers by the recalling of SAPS members from leave and rest days, more boots have been on the ground to police the rampant elements of criminality perpetuated by the looting of businesses and destruction of property.
The number of arrests had risen to 1 234 (KZN 549 and GP 683).
Since an instruction was issued by the NatJOINTS to other provinces that have not been affected, to operationalise their prevention, operational plans, there has been a report from Mpumalanga of an incident of looting and destruction of property in the Matsulu policing precinct with one person in custody.
According to Major General Mathapelo Peters, there has also been a report of two incidents in the Northern Cape, Galeshewe where one person has been arrested.
Peters said the two latest provinces to be affected, MP and NC, have had their law enforcement officers patrolling identified areas of threat in an effort to deter possible opportunistic criminality.
“Provincial Commissioners have in the meantime also activated the SAPS social crime prevention strategy and have been engaging with various stakeholders, including community based organisations, traditional leaders and the business community in order to amplify current operational plans to best tackle the looting and destruction of property currently prevalent in KZN and GP.
“The total number of people who have lost their lives since the beginning of these protests in KZN on Friday, 9 July 2021 has risen to 72.
“In KZN there are 27 cases being investigated by the police (murder 14, inquest 13) while the number in GP is 45 (murder 19 and inquest 26). The greater part of the inquest dockets relate to stampedes that occurred during incidents of looting of shops and malls; while other deaths and injuries were related to ATM explosions and shooting,” said Peters.
Peters said the SAPS, Defence and SSA as co-chairpersons of the NatJOINTS have condemned the attacks on law enforcement officers, which have now resulted in the death of an officer from Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department, while seven SAPS members are recovering from injuries sustained while responding to violent protests (KZN 3, GP 4).
“The NatJOINTS has also sent condolences to the family of the deceased EMPD Officer Meshack Mahlangu and wished the injured SAPS members a speedy recovery.
“Meanwhile, police from Soweto operationalised information received from the Intelligence Coordinating Committee, which led to the arrest of two on-duty Reservist Constables found in possession of property alleged to have been stolen during the incidents of looting of businesses in Soweto. It is further alleged that the two suspects were found off-loading suspected stolen property from a state vehicle.
“In response to reports of armed community members retaliating against protesters, the NatJOINTS has emphasised and reminded the public that although persons are entitled to protect their property and lives, the right to life is protected in the Constitution; and can only be infringed in extremely limited circumstances, in order to, inter alia, protect the life or bodily integrity of the defender.
“The NatJOINTS has commended the collaboration between the police and community through established platforms such as Community Policing Forums and Community in Blue. The public is urged to continue reporting crime on the Crime Stop number 08600 10111.”