DA leader Mmusi Maimane says if government “simply responds with minimum police presence and no proper crime intelligence to the scourge of xenophobic violence, then this kind of violence will continue to flare up every few years.“
He said the only way to restore peace and calm to these areas is through more efficient policing.
“If there is crime intelligence which they are not sharing, we urge them to do so right away. If they have no such crime intelligence to share, then this is a major concern, as it means they are not doing their job,” he said.
“We need to be able to arrest those who are destroying property and looting shops, and we need to be able to identify and apprehend those who are orchestrating the violence,” the DA leader said.
He said the scenes playing out across Gauteng, where foreigners are being attacked and their goods looted, do not belong in South Africa.
“That is not who we are, and that is not how we treat our brothers and sisters,” Maimane said, adding that there can never be any justification for this kind of behaviour.
“Those attempting to do so by pointing to their own circumstances – poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunities – are fooling themselves. They are seeking to create scapegoats for problems that have different solutions. This must end,” he said.
Handing over a memorandum to the SAPS station commander in Johannesburg, for the attention of National Police Minister, Bheki Cele, Maimane said “the time for monitoring the situation is over.”
Maimane said there is a need for “more boots on the ground until this matter has been resolved.”
He added that SAPS and JMPD members who are already deployed to these flashpoints are stretched to breaking point, and they “cannot deal with the sheer scale of the job.”
Maimane also wants police minister Cele to urgently deploy SAPS officers from elsewhere in South Africa to Gauteng “so that every scene of xenophobic violence can be met with an adequate Public Order Police response.”
The DA called on Cele and the government to:
- Deploy an emergency budget to deal with the outbreak of xenophobic violence in Gauteng.
- Immediately increase the number of SAPS Public Order Police.
- Increase the number of police reservists.
- Cooperate with the Provincial SAPS and Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) through the sharing of crime intelligence.
“This is not a time for power games and politicising the police,” Maimane said.
“If government is at all serious about ending this outbreak of xenophobic violence, then Minister Cele must immediately open his door to cooperation and teamwork,” the DA leader added.
Maimane also wants Cele to explain how these xenophobic actions were allowed to escalate to the level of violence and anarchy which they did.
From videos and eye witnesses, he said, “it is clear that many police officers were completely unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with the situation, and in many cases allowed the violence and looting to continue in front of them.”
Maimane said further that the “effect of this inaction” will be to encourage more such attacks – and not only in Gauteng, but ultimately across the country.
The only way to deal with crime is to ensure that there are swift repercussions for these actions, he said, because “without such repercussions, our society will descend into lawlessness and chaos.”