KZN to protect right to work, commute during protests

Friday, March 17, 2023

The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Sipho Hlomuka, has assured the public, especially those who will be going to work on Monday, 20 March, that their rights to work and commute will be protected during the planned national shutdown.

This follows the announcement by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that they will be taking to the streets in a planned national shutdown on Monday and have called on all South Africans to participate.

Schools will not be affected by the shutdown, as learners will not be going to school on Monday and Tuesday due to the Human Rights Day holiday, which falls on Tuesday.

“We therefore appeal to all parents to make sure that their children do not participate in the planned protests. As part of our operational plan, we have additional deployment that will be dedicated to this protest action.

“This will augment the existing 18 000 South African Police Service (SAPS) members in the province. Deployments will be made in areas that are perceived to be more fragile and seen as hot spots, including national key points,” Hlomuka said during a media briefing in Durban.

As of Friday, all teams and deployments from all districts will be activated and have been placed on high alert.

“We have also activated the Provincial Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (ProvJoints). This structure comprises all government departments, including the SAPS and the South African Defence Force. Equally, our intelligence operatives have been activated in all districts for early warning systems and for proactive interventions.

“Through the ProvJoints, we will be monitoring developments every minute and hour of the day until the protesters disengage. We will use the lessons from previous experiences to make sure that our citizens are safe,” the MEC said.

He said normal policing will continue at police stations, as members of the public will be serviced as usual.

As part of the deployment, members of the Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI), Public Transport Enforcement Services (PTES), eThekwini Metro and other municipal traffic officials will be managing all strategic points.

“Police management have also convened a meeting with Business Against Crime to engage them on increasing vigilance and security around their premises. This means the private security will be part of the machinery that will be monitoring the situation on the ground.

“The Department of Community Safety and Liaison will also be adding 1 400 volunteers in all districts to assist in monitoring the situation and feed the information to the police. Community Policing Forums and other community safety structures will be actively involved on the ground,” the MEC said.

Government will also be deploying resources such as helicopters, vehicles, inyalas, water cannons, and technology as part of monitoring the planned protests and securing the people.

Public order police will also be deployed in all districts, as they are trained in crowd management and control.

Public sector wage strike

Meanwhile, the provincial Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster has welcomed the decision by labour unions to suspend the public sector strike.

“This is important because as the province, we did experience some disruptions. This mostly affected hospitals and other critical sectors, including government buildings.

“This planned protest [on 20 March] will have no effect on the public service operations. Members of the public must be assured that they will receive maximum service, this includes licensing offices and social services offices.

"On the same note, we wish to commend the leadership of the unions for suspending their strike. This is progressive,” Hlomuka said.

The MEC appealed to members of the public to refrain from circulating unverified information on social media, as it causes unwarranted panic.

“We urge people to use social media responsibly during times like this. Stop circulating old videos. We also want to caution against the spreading of messages of fear, intimidation or inflammatory statements that could incite violence. This is a criminal offence.

“Law enforcement will not tolerate any lawlessness and any form of criminality. Therefore, it is important to note that anyone found contravening the law will be dealt with accordingly within the prescripts of the law,” he said.

Crime fighting efforts

The MEC said the planned protest on Monday will not disrupt the province’s crime fighting efforts.

“Strides are being made every day to stabilise the province and fight key categories of crime. As the JCPS cluster, we have a clear programme focusing on murder, illegal firearms, drugs and gender-based violence.

“Yesterday [Thursday] police made a breakthrough in Cato Manner when they arrested heavily armed criminals, who are believed to have been on their way to kill a businessman. Police proactively intercepted and recovered two AK 47s and stolen vehicles,” Hlomuka said.

During the month of February, more than 8 857 suspects were arrested for various crimes.

Of these, 152 were for murder and 150 for attempted murder. Police also recovered 309 firearms and 4 747 live ammunition.

“Ninety-two people were arrested for driving under the influence alcohol.  One-hundred-and-fifty-seven kilograms of various drugs were seized. As we intensify the fight against GBV, more than 157 arrests were made in crimes committed against women and children.

“This work will continue and we must applaud the efforts led by the police and all other law enforcement agencies,” the MEC said. –