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Malema on riots and looting: 'Where are the leaders to speak to their people?'

EFF leader Julius Malema says deployment of the police and SA National Defence Force shouldn't be "the first call". File photo.
EFF leader Julius Malema says deployment of the police and SA National Defence Force shouldn't be "the first call". File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell

EFF leader Julius Malema has taken subtle shots at leaders in the country, asking where they are and if they are scared of their people.

The red beret leader took to Twitter at the weekend to weigh in on the deployment of the SA Police Service (SAPS) and the potential deployment of theSA National Defence Force (SANDF), saying they shouldn't be the first call.

“You can't start with SA Police Service or SANDF as the first call,” said Malema.

“The question should be, where are the leaders to speak to their people? Are they scared of their people? And if the answer is yes, the next question should be: why are [they] leaders in the first place?”

Malema's post comes amid violent protests across the country. Over the past few days, protesters have been looting and burning buildings.

Rioting broke out in Gauteng at the weekend after days of protests in KwaZulu-Natal linked to the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.

According to SAPS, 62 suspects have been arrested after ongoing riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng at the weekend.

Spokesperson for the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) Col Brenda Muridili said the police arrested 18 suspects in Alexandria.

Sixteen of them were arrested for public violence and also linked to the shooting of a police officer who was rushed to hospital for urgent medical attention.

“The other two suspects were arrested for possession of suspected stolen property and malicious damage to property. This came as police responded to information of a group of people from Alexandra who targeted and forced entry into businesses, and started looting,” said Muridili.

“This group of about 800 people is reported to have attacked police, resulting in the shooting of police officers who have now received medical attention, with only one in hospital in a stable condition.”

While addressing the nation on SA's response to Covid-19, President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed dismay at the protests, saying some of the acts of violence were based on ethnic mobilisation.

“While there are those who may be hurt and angry at this moment, there can never be any justification for such violent, destructive and disruptive actions,” he said. 

“It is a matter of concern to all South Africans that some of these acts of violence are based on ethnic mobilisation.”

He said those found guilty would be arrested and prosecuted

“Let us be clear, as a nation, that we will not tolerate acts of criminality. Those who are involved in acts of violence will be arrested and prosecuted. Those found guilty of breaking the lockdown regulations will receive the stipulated penalty. This will be done without fear or favour.”

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