The Gauteng government is confident of dosing ongoing flare ups of violent attacks against foreign nationals and looting of shops across the province.
The commitment was made by Premier David Makhura and Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela during a press briefing in Germiston on Thursday.
During the briefing, Mawela revealed that police had arrested 423 suspects for various crimes since Sunday. During the upsurge, seven deaths had been recorded in Tshwane, Alexandra, Hillbrow and in KwaThema.
“We are very confident the situation will come under control. It’s a two pronged strategy, the police do their work but the political leadership has to be there,” said Makhura.
He expressed concerned at the dissemination of fake news on social media platforms, which he said was further fuelling violence and tension, especially in Ekurhuleni.
“We are very concerned about the fake news that the Pakistani and Somalis were going to kidnap children in schools [in Katlehong, Ekurhulen]. It was fake news that caused a lot of panic in Ekurhuleni, totally unnecessary,” he said.
Tshwane and Johannesburg under control
Amid the spiralling violence, on Tuesday the provincial legislature suspended a sitting for legislators to join police in quelling the violence. The situation in both Tshwane and Johannesburg subsequently came under control.
“The last place was in Coronationville where two people were killed in two different shops. But Johannesburg as we speak is fairly stable.
“Tshwane as we know started with the incident of the killing of the taxi driver. But the work our MEC for transport has done with the leadership of the taxi industry and the leadership of the City of Tshwane stabilised the situation by Tuesday, the city was stable,” he said.
Political parties sending one message
The Premier also commended political parties in the province for being part of efforts to calm tensions in the affected areas.
“We have been working with parties across Gauteng to send one message: we want peace, we don’t want violence. It doesn’t matter what the issues were, once people resort to violence and looting, it becomes criminality.
“The people of this province have been responding to this message in many areas. In Katlehong, people are now saying they will take steps themselves when they see criminal elements, they will make arrests,” he said.
Restoring peace and order
He thanked law enforcement agencies for working tirelessly to stabilise the province.
“We are happy that the law abiding members of the community are becoming frustrated about these criminals who are targeting businesses in their areas and have joined police to restore peace and order,” said Mawela.
Mawela said while peace had been restored in Johannesburg and Tshwane, criminality had taken to Ekurhuleni where shops owned by foreign nationals remained closed. This came after police on Wednesday arrested 54 people in Tembisa South for trying to invade a mall. Similar scenes were recorded in Tsakane, Daveyton and Katlehong.
“In KwaThema and Tokoza, police seized three firearms, one from a landlord and two unlicensed firearms from two foreign nationals who were shooting randomly at a group of people who were roaming around with a possible intention of looting,” he said.
Police monitoring a hostel in Tembisa
Police, he said, are monitoring a hostel in Tembisa where four vehicles were found burned and several people reported to have been robbed nearby. He said police were also investigating two murders of unknown people who were allegedly assaulted and burned in Katlehong.
Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina said the scenes playing out in the metro were pure criminality. He said the metro every Friday continues to enforce bylaws and engage communities on issues of concerns.
“We have been dealing with this issue of illegal goods that are being sold and food that is not proper. Every Friday when we go to service delivery meetings, we do interact with spaza shop owners and our health department inspects the food being sold to make sure that there are nothing untoward happening. There is that relationship that we have built overtime,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za