Business body welcomes military deployment to quell protests
Business Unity SA (Busa) says it welcomes the mobilisation of the military to help hard-pressed police units restore order in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal hit by violent protests and opportunistic incidents of crime since Friday.
“We welcome the mobilisation of the military,” Busa CEO Cas Coovadia said on Monday.
“We believe this decision should have been taken earlier, but urge the police and army to act urgently to protect people and property and arrest perpetrators.”
Busa had earlier called for calm in the wake of protests that have cost the country millions as rioters set fire to trucks, burnt buildings and looted stores in hotspots around the country.
The protests started in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday at the Mooi River toll plaza on the critical N3 artery which carries most of the country’s truck traffic.
Protestors barricaded the highway with mounds of sand and stopped and looted trucks. The protests were triggered by the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma last week, but have growing significantly and spread into other parts of the country.
Around 24 vehicles were set alight at the Mooi River toll plaza alone.
The violence spread to Gauteng on Sunday with violence and looting flaring up in Alexandra and parts of the Johannesburg CBD.
A group of about 300 people who had blocked the M2 highway were dispersed by police. Part of the group moved into Jeppestown, where they looted businesses and set at least one building alight.
Suhayl Essa, an emergency room doctor who was on duty at the community health centre in Hillbrow on Sunday, reported dozens of people coming to the clinic with gunshot and stab wounds.
“The situation became chaotic,” he said. “It descended into anarchy.”
Essa said there were also fights in the clinic itself.
Later in the day, police officers escorted an armoured ambulance to fetch patients from the clinic and transfer them to Helen Joseph Hospital.
Police were engaged in running battles with looters throughout Sunday night.
Six people have been killed during the protests and dozens injured.
Police have also arrested dozens of people in Gauteng and KZN.
This cannot be tolerated in a constitutional democracy in which the preservation of law and order and the protection of people’s rights are paramount.Cas Coovadia, Busa CEO
Coovadia said the critical issue was that small groups of people were destroying property, endangering lives and holding the country hostage.
“This cannot be tolerated in a constitutional democracy in which the preservation of law and order and the protection of people’s rights are paramount,” he said.
He said the violence would put further strain on the country’s economy ravaged by Covid-19 and was likely to result in further job losses.
It would also have a negative affect on any attempts to position SA as an investment destination.
“This will have a negative impact on our efforts to put SA onto a sustainable inclusive growth path and hamper our efforts to address the severe social and economic challenges our country faces,” Coovadia said.
Busa urged labour, community groups, faith-based organisations and others to “express their serious concern and anger at a small group holding our country to ransom”.
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