The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry says as organised businesses they “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”.
Violent protests have rocked the province since the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma late last Wednesday night.
The Chamber President, Nigel Ward, said in a statement on Tuesday evening: “Recent behaviour has had a negative impact on business, the economy and threatened innocent lives. With the COVID-19 pandemic currently ravaging the nation and numbers of infections on the rise this unprecedented conduct puts further strain to businesses already suffering consequences of the virus and will further delay the recovery process.”
The Chamber commended police officers who have made 757 arrests thus far in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
“However,” said the Chamber, “at present the police are not visible, businesses are still being looted as we speak, the SANDF that was deployed has not been seen in our communities. Businesses are still being looted and set alight 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 to assist our law enforcement agencies in a situation that is beyond their means.
“The only solution to arrest the problem at hand is for the President to declare a State of emergency and have heavy presence of all security and law enforcement agencies visible.”
Ward said that the City, the Province and the country cannot afford another 24 hours of looting, property being destroyed, food being stolen, business owners and employees losing another day of work.
“We will be headed towards a catastrophic state as a country. Now more than ever the private and public sector need to work together to achieve stability at all costs,” said the statement.
Defence Minister says no need for State of Emergency
Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said earlier today that she doesn’t believe the situation warrants a State of Emergency, and the President will only declare a State of Emergency when the need arises.
“For now, I don’t think there is an indication that there should be a State of Emergency,” she said on Tuesday. “If the time comes, informed by intelligence gathered and coordinated by the three entities [SAPS, Defence and State Security], the President will be advised and [only] then would he declare a State of Emergency, if the need arises, based on that assessment report.”
The Minister did acknowledge that the situation is grave, and the nation is duly panicked.