Cape Town – Business leaders in Durban have reportedly decried the absence of an effective response from government amid widespread, deadly looting raging in certain areas of South Africa.
The Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Tuesday maintained that the country did not need to go into a state off an emergency as a result of rioting and looting.
According to News24, Mapisa-Nqakula said a state of emergency meant that citizens’ rights would be taken away and the military would take over the running of the country.
“When the time comes, informed by intelligence gathered and coordinated by the three entities, the president is advised, then the president will declare a state of emergency if the need arises. For now, the situation looks like it has gone out of hand, people are in a state of panic. But whether it is correct, for now, to declare a state of emergency, we do not think so,” the report quoted the minister as saying.
But according to Moneyweb, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, called for the province to at least get the emergency declaration.
“As organised businesses, we urgently call upon President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a state of emergency in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, as this disorderly behaviour continues to spiral out of control,” the report quoted chamber president Nigel Ward, who is also executive vice president of manufacturing at Toyota South Africa as saying.
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He added: “Businesses are still being looted as we speak and the South African national defence force that was deployed has not been seen in our communities.
“Businesses in the city are being set alight and the situation is now completely out of control.
“We cannot waste any more time as law enforcement is not coping with the current situation. As organised business, we have been calling for the president to act and deploy more SANDF troops to assist our law enforcement agencies in a situation that is beyond their means.”
Massive looting outside Durban, South Africa pic.twitter.com/YPKwxYrDUL
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At least 2 500 troops were deployed to help police crush the violence and looting sparked by the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma.
The soldiers were sent onto the streets of the country’s two most densely populated provinces of Gauteng, which houses the country’s economic hub Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s home province.
But in many parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, there was no sign of soldiers in areas where looting and riots persisted.
Stores in Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal, were hit by looters for a fifth day running on Tuesday.
Dozens of women, some wearing their dressing gowns, men and even children strolled into a butcher’s cold store in the Johannesburg suburb of Soweto, coming out balancing heavy boxes of frozen meat on their shoulders or heads.
The number of arrests has risen significantly to 1 234, although thousands upon thousands have been involved in ransacking businesses, factories, and retail centres.
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In his nationwide address on Monday night, Ramaphosa lashed “opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft”.
It was “of vital importance that we restore calm and stability to all parts of the country without delay”, Ramaphosa said.
Picture: Getty Images
Compiled by Betha madhomu
Additional reporting by AFP