At least 2 200 people have been arrested for looting and violence during the riots in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng.
The South African Council of Churches is waving the peace flag: The body has made a number of proposals to government – one of them being that police declare an amnesty period for about two weeks, during which people who return the goods they looted, will not face prosecution.
“The church is an agent for reconciliation and the restoration and recovery of the positive human spirit, akin to the African concept of Ubuntu-Botho. When one has participated in wrongdoing, one is to be encouraged to make amends and take on a new path; and that is a part of the person’s healing. Churches wish to encourage people who have looted, to attempt to return things they stole, by delivering them at the nearest police stations,” the Council’s General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana said.
Over the past few days, South Africa has seen sporadic protests and looting in both provinces, during which shops, malls and other business establishments have been targeted. The unrest started out as demonstrations demanding former president Jacob Zuma’s release from prison in KZN, but soon morphed into looting sprees, which then spread to parts of Gauteng.
More than 2 200 people have already been arrested.
For the most part, calm has been restored, especially in Gauteng, however the 25 000 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) are still on the ground and are monitoring the situation.
The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has proposed a restoration drive that looks at ways of reviving the country’s economy, in the wake of the looting sprees. The Council has recommended the establishment of an initiative that is aimed at creating community solidarity around positive public values; social cohesion and mutual respect.
“The restoration campaign has already begun, with the laudable heroism of emerging community leaders who mobilise against looting, and for the protection of their community infrastructure. Community volunteers are coming up for mop-up operations which are themselves a healing exercise,” Bishop Mpumlwana said.
“On a more deliberate basis, we need leaders of all faiths everywhere, civic and community leaders, traditional leaders in rural communities, and business and trade unions in the workplace, all of us to pull together and chart a path of restoration.”