Security forces remain on alert as ‘national shutdown’ fails to materialise

Security forces in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng remain on the alert despite the apparent failure of a national shutdown on Monday to demand the release of former president Jacob Zuma from jail and the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ahead of the shutdown and marches in Durban and other centres — called for on social media — thousands of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops and police had flooded potential hotspots in the two provinces, which were hit hard by riots last month, triggered by pro-Zuma protests, which the government has characterised as an attempted insurrection.

The ANC and South African Communist Party in the province had distanced themselves from the shutdown, as had the taxi industry.

The march planned for the Durban central business district to demand the release of Zuma, who is serving a 15-month  jail sentence for contempt for ignoring a summons to return to the Zondo commission into state capture, Ramaphosa’s resignation and a return to the “real ANC”, failed to materialise.

In the eThekwini metro, attempts to block roads in the Springfield area on Monday morning were headed off by the police, who dispersed the crowds that had gathered.

A municipal office in Besters, north of Durban, was vandalised on Sunday night, resulting in it being closed on Monday morning. It is not known whether the incident was related to the attempt to call a shutdown.

Unconfirmed reports have also been received on an attempt to block the roads at the Pavillion shopping centre next to the N3 highway outside Durban.

The metro police spokesperson, senior superintendent Parbhoo Sewpersad, said that on Monday morning there had been “sporadic” incidents in which attempts were made to close roads to the area, which was looted heavily during the attacks in July.

“Metro police along with other units responded, chased away the crowds and reopened the roads,” Sewpersadh said, adding that no overnight incidents had taken place but  metro police remained on high alert on Tuesday. 

The National Joint Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee, which is coordinating the security response to the July attacks, is expected to issue a statement on the security situation.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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