Cape Town tightens security over fears riots may spread

Several shopping malls in Cape Town in the Western Cape have tightened up their security measures while some decided to close their doors in response to the violent looting of shops and attacks on shopping malls in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal that continued on Monday.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde condemned the violent attacks in a press statement on Monday afternoon, adding the local government in the province is “in close contact with the provincial police commissioner, General Thembisile Patekile throughout this period”. 

Winde confirmed, “isolated attempts” of looting have occurred but it was “successfully brought under control by law enforcement,” while no further reports of looting were reported. 

“I can confirm that the SAPS [South African Police Service] and other law enforcement officials are on full alert in the Western Cape and remain ready to ensure law and order is maintained, and the rights and livelihoods of our residents are protected,” said Winde.

Western Cape police spokesperson FC van Wyk told the Mail & Guardian no looting or protests had yet occurred in Cape Town, but that police remained on standby. 

“There is nothing in the Western Cape. No looting, no protests. But we are ready for any eventuality,” said Van Wyk on Monday afternoon. 

Van Wyk spoke to the M&G after reports circulated that shopping malls were closing down across the metro due to looting scares. 

Another police spokesperson, Joseph Swartbooi, dismissed reports of alleged looting taking place at locations like the N1 City shopping centre. Meanwhile, the management of Vangate Mall in Athlone made a proactive decision to close the shopping centre on Monday as a safety precaution.

“Athlone police members are in the area monitoring the situation in the case of any eventuality. We can confirm that no incidents of looting have been reported,” Swartbooi said.

Several other shopping malls in the city closed their doors on Monday, including Nyanga Junction in Manenberg as well as  Westgate Mall and the Liberty Promenade Shopping Centre in Mitchells Plain. Protests in the surrounding area — unrelated to those raging in Gauteng — have been ongoing since Friday. The protests were largely driven following the city’s Anti-Land Invasion Unit taking action to prevent unlawful land occupation.

Earlier reports on Monday alleged that both the upmarket V&A Waterfront and Canal Walk shopping centres had closed as a precautionary measure. But spokespersons for both malls denied that they had closed.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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