Police on alert after day of protests

Date: 10 Jul 2021

LAW enforcement authorities are on high alert after several protests in parts of Kwazulu-natal yesterday, mostly around Durban, in the wake of former president Jacob Zuma’s incarceration.

Late yesterday, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said the SAPS in Kwazulu-natal was working closely with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to formulate charges including malicious damage to property, arson, looting and blocking and the damage of national roads in and around Durban.

He said the “actions have clearly emanated from the calls that were made by certain prominent persons via the mainstream and social media space.

These prominent individuals will most likely be the ones facing these charges and they will be called to account for these and any other crimes that may occur in the future,” said Naidoo.

Morning commuters in parts of the city found roads blocked by burning tyres and trees.

Incidents were reported in Umgeni Road, Alpine Road in Overport and on the M4 between umhlanga and Ballito, the city centre, Che Guevara Avenue and Spine Road, near The Pavilion.

Road Traffic Inspectorate spokeswoman Zinhle Mngomezulu said that, in Pietermaritzburg, the Msunduzi Municipality had blocked off the area around the city’s high court for the day. Yesterday the court ruled against Zuma in his bid to stay out of jail.

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said all roads were clear by 11.30am, and “traffic was moving freely as of 1.30pm”.

Mngomezulu said that on the N3, roads were closed yesterday morning at Hammarsdale and Cliffdale.

“The R103 at Hammarsdale was also closed, so there was no alternative route for motorists,” Mngomezulu told the Independent on Saturday.

Trucks were parked across the N2 at Umgababa on the South Coast where tar was dumped on the road and the John Ross Highway, near Richards Bay.

“Protesters deflated the tyres of a truck on the N2 North so the opening of the lane was delayed,” said Mngomezulu.

She said protesters had tried to close the N3 at Mooi River and vehicles had been stoned.

Traffic officers were on alert, patrolling between Van Reenen and Durban, “motorists must also be vigilant.” she said, adding that it was a “cat and mouse game” as protesters fled before officers arrived at incidents.

Metro Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad said that during the day, a truck had dumped sand on the M4, near Clairwood, and there had been protests on the M25 towards Kwamashu.

At an informal settlement on a hill above Alpine Road in Springfield, residents had a bird’s eye view of a burning blockade a metro police armoured Casspir vehicle pushed away from the road.

The provincial government called for calm.

“Several vehicles were reportedly stoned and millions worth of public infrastructure damaged, resulting in many commuters not being able to reach their places of work,” read a statement issued by the province.

“Police say a comprehensive multi-disciplinary provincial security plan has been developed and all law enforcement agencies are on high alert as they attend to this unfortunate and unlawful situation taking place in the province.”

Premier Sihle Zikalala called on protesters to express their anger through legitimate and peaceful platforms.

Zikalala also reminded people about Covid-19, cautioning them on the impact of illegal gatherings under lockdown level 4 and the rise in Covid-19 infections.

“Health experts have also warned that the rate of infection in the province has now hit double digits in the majority of the districts.”

Nigel Ward, president of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, condemned “this disorderly behaviour” and called for urgent intervention from all spheres of government.

“As of this morning the impact has been devastating, from the traffic disruption on major highways, to the commuting of workers to their workplaces.”

Ward said that given the current lockdown regulations, the economy could not afford the added strain, more especially in high commercial areas such as the north region and N3 highway.

Sewpersad said metro police responded as information was received.

“We have high visibility patrols along all the hot spot roads in and out of the city.”

He asked people to report all incidents of protest action and road blockages to their call centre at 031 361 0000.

DUNCAN GUY duncan.guy@inl.co.za

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