The racial tensions in Phoenix, Durban, have claimed the lives of 15 people, Police Minister Bheki Cele says.
The tensions were triggered by the ongoing business lootings and public violence that swept KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in the past week.
Cele, who visited the area on Wednesday evening, said racial tensions have characterised the unrest and the community’s efforts to protect their neighbourhood from looting.
With the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to assist the police to restore law and order, Cele expressed confidence that safety in area will improve.
“While the situation is not ideal at all and there are ugly scenes playing out on the streets of Phoenix, the racial direction that these unrests are taking must be arrested speedily,” he said.
The Ministry in the statement expressed concern at the mass business lootings in Mobeni, in the South of Durban, by hundreds of people from surrounding areas.
Cele witnessed first-hand how mobs risked their lives during crowd control dispersal measures by law enforcement on the ground.
“The Ministry is pleased that engagements with the private security industry have been escalated to improve coordination while managing the unrest,” read a statement issued by the police.
Cele expressed confidence that the ongoing business looting and public violence will soon be arrested.
On Wednesday, he conducted a situational analysis of the destruction in areas in both provinces. He also received reports from local police in Phoenix and Mobeni in Durban on their operational requirements to contain the violence.
The Ministry said Cele remains encouraged that members of the South African Police Service, working together with other law enforcement agencies, had managed to restore a level of public safety in parts of Gauteng.
He is confident that the intervention of the SANDF will turn around the volatile situation in parts of KZN.
Earlier in the day, Cele conducted a walkabout at the Tshwane Regional Mall and Nkomo Village shopping centre in Tshwane, where looting was cut short by police and community intervention.
Cele expressed appreciation to the community structures who worked within the law to ensure community safety.
He said it is through these working relations that the space for criminality is squeezed out.
“Police have responded to threats of buildings being targeted, including the Ford manufacturing plant in Mamelodi. It is through the quick responses of the SAPS that many of these buildings have been left untouched and looting has been prevented,” said the Minister. – SAnews
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