SA activates national plan to respond to unrest

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pretoria - Joint Operational Centres have been activated nationally to respond to the ongoing attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) -- which is the operational arm of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster -- will run a centre on a 24-hour basis to coordinate the response of law enforcement to these violent incidents.

National Police Commissioner, General Riah Phiyega, said on Thursday that the Provincial and Cluster Joint Operational Structures will also be activated.

Phiyega said the activation of these operational centres is a proactive measure to have a birds’ eye view of the situation around the country and to curb any potential threats of violence that may flare up in any of the provinces.

“These operational centres will also ensure the strategic deployment of our security forces for the purpose of counteracting and mitigating such violence,” Phiyega said.

In order to improve intelligence capacity, NATJOINTS has deployed additional operatives on the ground to gather information and assess it for its operational response.

Phiyega urged all law abiding citizens to remain calm and to allow the security forces to do their work.

“While we rely on information of possible criminality, we want to urge people to refrain from spreading false information that violence is flaring up in areas when in fact it is not,” she said.

Phiyega also called on community leaders to urge their followers to distance themselves from these attacks. She said any person committing acts of crime will be met with the full might of the law.

"While we appreciate that there are tensions in various parts of the country between some locals and foreign nationals, lawlessness will not be tolerated. We will continue to arrest and bring those involved in criminal acts to book," Phiyega said.

Overnight, there was a flare up of violent attacks and looting in Jeppestown, Johannesburg. Six male suspects have been arrested for public violence and housebreaking.

According to police, the suspects allegedly broke into foreigners' shops and two people were injured in the process.

The situation remains tense near Jeppe Hostel where the suspects were arrested.

There have also been reports of looting in Mountain Rise and Alexander Road in Pietermaritzburg. Police deployments are in place and the situation is being monitored.

Violence initially erupted in KwaZulu-Natal a week ago. Since then, police have moved to bring the situation under control after Phiyega ordered the deployment of additional police personnel, including members from the National Intervention Unit and various disciplines of the SAPS.

This deployment led to the arrest of 74 people for offences including murder, public violence, business robbery, theft and possession of firearms and ammunition.

"We remain hopeful that with all the support law enforcement authorities are receiving from national and provincial government departments, civil society and the community at large, a solution will be found shortly,” said Phiyega. –