Rioting and looting: fewer incidents being reported

208 incidences of looting and damage to property — but it's looking up

On Wednesday night, 208 incidents of looting and vandalising of malls and shopping centres had been reported in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. In Gauteng on Thursday morning, the Naledi Mall, Cosmo City Multipurpose Centre and Northgate Shopping Centre were 'points of interest'.
On Wednesday night, 208 incidents of looting and vandalising of malls and shopping centres had been reported in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. In Gauteng on Thursday morning, the Naledi Mall, Cosmo City Multipurpose Centre and Northgate Shopping Centre were 'points of interest'.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Despite looting and damage to key infrastructure continuing on Wednesday night, the presidency says there are fewer incidents than before and more importantly fewer incidents of violence. 

But there is concern about potential food shortages and members of the public who have armed themselves to protect property. 

In a statement released on Thursday morning, acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said 208 incidents had been reported overnight, with 52 incidences of looting and vandalising of malls and shopping centres in Gauteng and 156 in KwaZulu-Natal.

Ntshavheni said they had received positive reports that the deployment of additional law enforcement agencies “is starting to reap positive results as we are seeing less incidents of violence and looting reported”.

She said 5,000 members of the SANDF have already deployed on the ground.

“The law enforcement officers supported by the military are working tirelessly to ensure that the country returns to peace and stability and that those responsible for the instability are quickly brought to book,” she said. 

“With the looting of shopping malls and centres, the community members are raising concerns of food shortages and stoppage of key economic activities. There are also reports of panic-buying by members of the public. 

“We urge members of the public to remain calm and exercise restraint during these trying times. Government is working with the National Consumer Goods Council to ensure food security. If we have members of the public flocking into the shops and malls to buy food stuff we also risk spreading the Covid-19 virus into uncontrollable levels.

“Another area of concern ... is members of the community taking up arms to try to protect their properties. We understand the concern for community for their safety and their need to protect their properties. We would like to urge these communities to work with the law enforcement agencies to stop the looting and violence and to operate within the rule of law. If we have everybody taking up arms, we stand a risk of having unruly elements also hijacking the noble efforts of the community.”

The statement also cautioned the media and community not to release or circulate sensitive information on the investigations on identified suspects who are behind the violence and looting, saying it could jeopardise sensitive investigations.

The government said it is working with different sectors to end the looting and violence. “We all need to speak with one voice to condemn the lawlessness and to work together to ensure that we root out this scourge in our communities.”

Fidelity Services Group CEO Wahl Bartmann said they had a good night on Wednesday as the looting had quietened.

Fidelity is the largest security solutions provider in the country. 

“We had a good night last night — there were a few small attempts here and there, but not to the volumes and capacity that we have seen previously. KwaZulu-Natal is better but we are still gearing up to make sure we can protect our customers,” he said.

“From the air surveillance, everything looks quiet.”

According to the Google Maps incident tracker, there are no new riots or looting going on at present these will be indicated in red. The blue markers are areas which have been reported in the past and the purple markers are for unverified incidents. 

According to the tracker, in Gauteng on Thursday morning the Mall of Africa and Makro Distribution Centre are all clear. 

The Naledi Mall, Cosmo City Multipurpose Centre and Northgate Shopping Centre are “points of interest”.

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