Premier asks army to be on alert in case unrest spreads to Eastern Cape
Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane has requested that the military be on alert to assist the police should ongoing riots spread to the province.
On Tuesday, Mabuyane said he had sent the request to national government in case the need for law enforcement intervention arises.
“I have asked national government to put soldiers who are based in our province on high alert for deployment to support our police officers if the need arises.
“The soldiers are the defenders of innocent people against anarchists and will assist the police to prevent destruction of public and private property,” Mabuyane said.
The premier urged Eastern Cape citizens to resist being recruited to join the looting of businesses and destruction of property seen in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
He said the provincial government had been made aware of messages about a campaign trying to mobilise Eastern Cape citizens.
We are in the phase of building the Eastern Cape we want, not of destroying the Eastern Cape we have. Let us all protect the future of our childrenEastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane
“We want to assure you that law enforcement agencies are investigating the origins of those messages to arrest the ring leaders of that campaign.
“We also urge you to report to law enforcement authorities any attempts to fuel violent protests in communities,” he said.
Mabuyane commended the taxi industry and citizens who have used social media to discourage others from participating in criminal acts and violence.
“We urge civic organisations, the business sector, labour organisations, the religious sector, traditional leaders, youth formations and leaders of political parties to also take a stand and be on the ground to quell any attempts to cause anarchy in all regions in our province.
“We are in the phase of building the Eastern Cape we want, not of destroying the Eastern Cape we have. Let us all protect the future of our children,” he said.
He said citizens would be shooting themselves in the foot if they destroyed a province already battling “huge” challenges of socioeconomic infrastructure underdevelopment.
Mabuyane said the retail sector, which has been targeted in riots in other provinces, was among the province’s investment attractions and needed to be protected.
“Shopping malls provide jobs for the people of our province and enable them to put food on their tables.
“The shopping malls closer to our communities make shopping cost-effective for locals. They must be protected by the people they serve.
“The people orchestrating the violent protests want to target the shopping centres that provide jobs for many of our people.
“They also want to close roads that enable transportation of food, medicines and other essential items that we need for our daily lives.”
The premier called on citizens to focus on flattening the curve of Covid-19 infections and rebuilding livelihoods.
He will meet all organised taxi formations on Tuesday and has directed all mayors to meet local taxi associations in an attempt to quell the violence and destruction of public and private property.
“On the side of government, we are ready to deal with the threat of violent protests and the police will be highly visible in our communities to protect our people and local businesses,” Mabuyane said.