Brief overview of recent unrests and riots in South Africa
The Province of KwaZulu-Natal was seriously affected by widespread riots and unrest, which occurred in several of its municipalities from 8 July to 21 July 2021. The public riots and unrest were characterised by violence, looting and destruction of public and private property, which resulted in the disruption of the delivery of basic services and business. eThekwini Metro had to cease rendering certain services such as bus transport services in the interest of protecting workers, commuters and assets during the volatile situation. Other municipalities had to halt the collection of waste in their areas while most call centres cannot operates workers cannot get to work for fear of their lives. As a result, many of the affected areas could not be attended to by emergency services, in particular fire and rescue, as well as ambulance services, without protection from the security personnel.
To date, some of the affected infrastructure and facilities include the following: The latest fatalities confirmed by the Security Cluster in KwaZulu-Natal is 251; 178 deaths’ cases, 87 inquests and 132 arson cases have been opened. These were people that were killed in areas that include Umlazi, KwaMashu, Inanda, Phoenix, Harry Gwala, Ugu, Umzinyathi, uMgungundlovu and northern KwaZulu-Natal. No deaths were reported in Uthukela and Zululand. Law-enforcement agencies had over 2 000 suspects arrested. It was also reported that 29 manufacturing, 30 pharmaceutical, 1 344 wholesale/retail/trade, two tourism, 80 finance, real estate and business services, 82 transport, storage and communication, eight agriculture and 44 public facilities were looted, vandalised and burnt. In many instances, municipal fire services, law enforcement and emergency medical services were dispatched immediately to respond to the incidents.
Mtubatuba Local Municipality
It was reported that the Mtubatuba Disaster Management/Fire Services’ offices and the Department of Transport vehicles were burnt during the unrests.
A multi-sectoral intervention, ranging from Government, business sector, non-governmental organisations and private sector was initialised.
An oversight visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa, members of the national and provincial executive, mayors and councillors visited affected areas to assess the damages and offer support to the affected communities on 16 July 2021. Government engaged with communities to quell simmering racial tensions caused by the public unrest, interacting with community members and calling for looting and vandalism of infrastructure to end. The focus was on rebuilding and reconstruction of the provincial economy. The province intensified engagements with community structures on the ground to identify risk and threats in their areas and report those before they even happen. Operation Sukuma Sakhe (OSS) structures have been activated to engage at a local level with all structures to listen to people’s concerns.
In Gauteng, protestors started looting shops targeting shopping malls and small businesses in community areas. By 12 July 2021, a number of business and small shops were looted, destroyed and damaged. Government’s intervention to deploy law enforcement, supported by South African National Defence Force (SANDF) prevented the situation from escalating further into other provinces. Currently, the situation is stable and manageable, according to reports. The South African Police Service’s (SAPS) Provincial Joint Operations is convening daily meetings to monitor the developments and coordinate incident management strategies. As of 28 July 2021, the situation is calm and normal the communities are recovering from the impacts of the social unrests.
In Gauteng, the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) and City of Ekurhuleni (CoE) were the most affected. Few attacks were directed to individual residential houses. Some of the areas affected included Thembisa, Katlehong, Thokoza, Daveyton, Meadowlands, Orange Farm, Soweto, Mamelodi West and Sebokeng. The main type of incidents reported was looting and burning at shopping malls, damage to infrastructure such as water pipes and vandalising of ATMs. There was also a hostage and a shooting incident.
To date the incidents reported included 14 incidents of looting shopping mall/centres/shops, 10 fires set at shopping mall/centres/shops, one fire at a factory and one vehicle fire. Malls affected in Ekurhuleni included Thembisa Plaza, Busy Corner Thembisa, Sam Ntuli Mall, Naledi Mall and Chris Hani Mall while Orange Farm Mall, Diepkloof Square, Jabulani Mall, Maponya Mall, Pan African Shopping Centre, Bara Mall, Newtown Mall and Ndofaya Mall in Johannesburg was affected. In Sedibeng the Thabong Centre was affected.
We are still requesting information from the various services and municipalities/metros and will endeavour to provide a comprehensive overview in Fire and Rescue International.
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