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It’s not our responsibility to stop protests: SA Defence Minister

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Anarchy has ruled across large parts of the KZN province, as protests in the name of Jacob Zuma begin to spread into Free State and Gauteng. The demonstrators, who have taken to burning tyres, blocking roads, and looting stores, want the former president released from jail – but could their actions result in a local SANDF deployment?

The army was given the go-ahead to patrol South Africa’s streets during the first lockdown of 2020. There were plenty of controversies that emerged, but the additional presence of thousands of soldiers helped the police force implement unprecedented measures. As KZN now bears the brunt of lawlessness, calls for SANDF intervention have intensified.

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, has told the media she has been evaluating the situation, and concluded that this is ‘not the right time’ to send soldiers into the province. She reasons that the current wave of protests, though disruptive, still do not fall under the remit of SANDF and its core responsibilities.

“The army has not been deployed to KZN. That is not the responsibility of the SANDF. I don’t think we have reached a point where SANDF should be dragged into what is happening. All of us South Africans should condemn that violence. And right now you are seeing the food, goods which are being delivered to other parts of the country being burnt.”

In a statement, police said at least 27 suspects have been apprehended for the ongoing #FreeJacobZuma sporadic protests in different parts of KZN this weekend – and that number is expected to grow over the coming days.

To this end, 27 suspects have been arrested since yesterday on various charges that include: public violence, business burglary, malicious damage to property, and contravention of the DMA lockdown regulations.

This comes after an unconfirmed number of trucks were torched and looting of several businesses in the Mooi River CBD. Efforts are afoot to track and trace more suspects.”

Police say more officers have been deployed to Maimai Hostel in Johannesburg and they are ready for Monday’s Constitutional Court hearing of former president Jacob Zuma’s rescission application.

Gauteng Acting Police Commissioner Major-General Tommy Mthombeni says their intelligence team is on the ground gathering crucial information.

The affected areas include Malvern, Jeppestown, Denver, Wynberg, Alexandra and the Johannesburg CBD.

Johannesburg Emergency Services say they responded to a number of fire incidents in several parts of the city, late on Saturday night, as well as in the early hours of Sunday morning.

This follows a number of violent protests in Malvern, Jeppestown, Denver and Wynberg. Several shops were also looted.

It’s understood that the protestors are pro-Zuma supporters calling for his release. He is currently incarcerated at the Estcourt Correctional Services facility. No injuries have been reported.

Meanwhile, the situation in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) remains tense on the eve of Zuma’s application for the rescission of his 15-month prison sentence in the Constitutional Court.

The province has borne the brunt of two days of violent widespread protests.

Protesters across KZN  have intensified their call for President Zuma to be released. Many Estcourt residents appealed for the former President to be released.

Mooi River was among the worst hit with the torching of 23 heavy-duty vehicles. At least 27 people were arrested by late Saturday for public violence and damage to property.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has issued a warning that criminal elements will be met with the full might of the law. Security remains tightened around the Escourt Correctional Services facility. – Agencies

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