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From safety plans to arrests — here’s what eThekwini is doing in response to the unrest and riots

15 July 2021 - 10:15 By cebelihle bhengu
eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda. File photo.
eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda. File photo.
Image: GovernmentZA/Flickr

All malls in eThekwini's townships have been damaged and looted,  according to the metro's mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, who briefed the media on Wednesday.

Kaunda said this has not only derailed efforts to build township economies but has also led to a jobs bloodbath. Kaunda pleaded for calm and unity amid racial tensions brewing in the province after the unrest.

The protests started last Friday with supporters of former president Jacob Zuma demanding his release from the Estcourt Correctional Centre.

Kaunda said the damage to property amounts to R15bn and has negatively affected 5,000 informal traders who are unable to do business in the inner city.

Here's what the city is doing in response to the unrest: 

Safety plan

Kaunda said there is an increased police presence in malls, shopping centres and other hotspot areas and police are being deployed to communities to trace and recover stolen goods and property. 

“Since the protests began, the metro police have developed a safety plan which includes, among other things, increasing police visibility in a number of hotspot areas, particularly in malls where most of the looting and vandalism is taking place.”

Accountability

Kaunda said law enforcement will hold accountable residents who use social media to incite violence and lawlessness. He said police have arrested over 200 perpetrators who were handed over to 30 police stations around the city. 

“The law must take its course on those who send voice notes inciting violence on social media. It is such irresponsible behaviour that brought our city to where it is today.”

Task teams in communities

Kaunda said incidents of racism that saw members of some communities blockading roads will not be tolerated. Task teams are being established to calm the situation and promote unity.

“The task team will include the leadership in the form of councillors from all these areas. The task team will be responsible for spreading the positive message: the time for us to unite is now.

“The communities in unison must reject this at all costs because we are one community and we can't be divided on the basis of our colour. We must reject the notion that there is a white area.”

Strengthening service delivery

Kaunda said the municipality will restore street lights and other services in communities.

“We will be able to isolate members of the communities from criminals who want to isolate the space.” 

Building an inclusive economy

Kaunda expressed concern about the poverty-stricken communities who used the destruction to loot food. The city will introduce social relief programmes to assist these communities. 

“We must build an inclusive economy that will take into cognisance that there are people who are without jobs and have nothing to eat at home. We will be making relief programmes concerning communities and businesses, people who can't afford their services.” 


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