Minister questions inaction by private security guards as looters rampage

12 July 2021 - 17:58
By andisiwe makinana AND Andisiwe Makinana
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says private security guards 'are not stopping people from looting businesses'. File photo.
Image: GCIS Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says private security guards 'are not stopping people from looting businesses'. File photo.

Security cluster ministers want private security companies to help quell the looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula decried inaction by private security companies, whom she described as well-armed and well-organised and, in the main, responsible for securing private properties and businesses.

She was speaking on behalf of the security cluster ministers, who were briefing the ANC's national executive committee meeting on the latest developments regarding violent protests and looting of businesses in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

TimesLIVE has heard an audio clip where Mapisa-Nqakula told the ANC's NEC meeting on Monday: “As we are talking now there has been a lot of looting of shopping malls. There [are] a lot of shopping malls which have been burnt down ... and it has been happening in the presence of private security in those areas.”

She said the government needed to engage the industry to see what they could do together, “because it can't be correct that they are responsible for the businesses but they are just watching and nothing is happening”.

“They are not stopping people from looting businesses. I am just raising that because it is a source of concern and we will have to deal with it,” she said.

Mapisa-Nqakula said private security was in fact better armed than the law-enforcement agencies and hence the need to engage them with regards to this.

Police minister Bheki Cele added that the CEO of the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority was also looking at the whereabouts of the private security companies that are normally on the ground — “because everyone sees only the police there”.

Meanwhile, Mapisa-Nqakula told the NEC the directive the army generals issued to soldiers was that there should be no loss of life, and all that members of the defence have to do is protect infrastructure and stop people from destroying what is there.

She said the decision to deploy the army was informed by an assessment by the police themselves, who said they need the support of the army. As such, she and Cele wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa to confirm the deployment of the defence force.

As is required by law, parliament will soon be informed about the numbers of soldiers deployed, including the money that is likely to be spent on that deployment.

Mapisa-Nqakula confirmed that the army was deployed in Pietermaritzburg and in some areas in Gauteng. She said they were focusing on areas that were likely to be vandalised. The government hopes that once there is adequate deployment of the defence personnel, their presence would serve as a deterrent as they are meant to restore law and order.

She confirmed that Ramaphosa would address the nation on Monday night and elaborate on the issues.