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Millions of rand of KZN infrastructure damaged in violent ‘Free Jacob Zuma’ protests

Suthentira Govender Senior reporter
A truck blockade near Empangeni, northern KwaZulu-Natal, on Friday.
A truck blockade near Empangeni, northern KwaZulu-Natal, on Friday.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

The KwaZulu-Natal government pleaded for calm on Friday amid protests believed to be part of a violent “Free Jacob Zuma and shut down KZN” campaign in which millions of rand worth of infrastructure have been damaged.

The police were under pressure when responding to several fiery protests, disruptions to traffic and truck blockades since the early hours of Friday morning from Empangeni on the north coast to the province’s south coast.

The provincial government said KwaZulu-Natal had “experienced a number of scattered attempts to bring the province to a grinding halt as major roads and highways, including the N2 and N3, were targeted.

“The M7, which is a strategic cargo transit route to the Port of Durban, and other provincial and municipal links were also affected.

“Several vehicles were reportedly stoned and millions worth of public infrastructure damaged, resulting in many commuters not being able to reach their places of work.

“Police say a comprehensive multidisciplinary provincial security plan has been developed and all law enforcement agencies are on high alert as they attend to this unfortunate and unlawful situation taking place in the province.

“It is believed those behind the protests are people opposed to the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.”

Premier Sihle Zikalala urged protesters to express their anger through “legitimate and peaceful platforms”.

“We understand the extreme anger of the people who are protesting. As a country and province we find ourselves in a very unusual and unique situation wherein we are dealing with the arrest of a former president of the ANC and the country. We are therefore dealing with very challenging times.

“However, we call on those who are protesting to do so through peaceful means and to avoid violence and destruction at all costs.”

Zikalala also cautioned about the impact of illegal gatherings under adjusted lockdown level 4 and the impact on Covid-19 infections.

“We have been thoroughly briefed about the security situation on the ground and we can assure the people of the province that all law enforcement authorities are on high alert and are addressing the incidents as they evolve.”

Zikalala said the provincial government would urgently convene a crime, justice and security cluster meeting to further assess the situation and review strategies to deal with threats and violence.


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