PRETORIA – President Jacob Zuma has once again called for restraint and calm as what was initially meant to be a protest against crime was marred by violence, looting and destruction of property.
A group calling themselves the Mamelodi Concerned Residents had obtained permission from the City of Tshwane to march. The march commenced in Marabastad at the Hallmark Building.
Despite widespread reports that the march was solely against illegal immigrants, organisers had wanted to put the spotlight on crimes such as drug dealing and human trafficking. However, a group of people from Atteridgeville blockaded roads, burned tyres and threw stones, Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said in a briefing on the day’s events.
This group without authority, he said, also marched to the Pretoria CBD and were dispersed after there was confrontation with another group apparently consisting of non-South Africans.
Today’s march follows violence and looting over the past week. Police, however, have managed to arrest 136 people over the past 24 hours in connection with the unrest.
While on other government business in Pretoria today, President Zuma seized the opportunity to speak out on the protests.
He acknowledged that the concerns raised by residents over crime in their localities were valid. He lamented the fact that the protest seemed to be hijacked by people with ulterior motives.
“The march… was anti-crime in the main. It was not an anti-foreigners march… If [however] there are specific issues like foreign nationals occupying houses and using those houses for criminal activities, that is what people [have an issue with].
“… If we have trafficking of young girls and prostitution… this will make people angry certainly. [But] it is a matter of how we handle the situation (sic).
“There is a recognised crime of human trafficking and those involved in it must be dealt with by the law,” said President Zuma.
The President appealed to marchers to exercise restraint at all times to get their message across to government.
“The march must be peaceful. Criminals mustn’t take advantage of the marchers and loot shops and cause chaos. As a country, we need to address this matter properly.”
President Zuma recently had a Security Cluster meeting in Cape Town, where authorities looked at what more can be done to fight crime.
During the meeting, the President instructed the cluster to look at everything possible, including the country’s laws, to reduce crime.
“… Let’s strengthen (our laws) so that we protect the innocent citizens who become victims. We need to have a solution.” – SAnews.gov.za
— Mpho Raborife (@MsRaborife) February 24, 2017
— CO4ZA (@co4za) February 24, 2017