BCM executive mayor Xola Pakati has condemned the recent destruction caused by protesters in East London, whose “extremely shocking, criminal and barbaric” actions led to shopping centres like Vincent Park, Hemingways Mall and Retail Park pre-emptively evacuating shoppers and staff.
The protests are part of a nation-wide series of destructive acts that kicked off last week following the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma.
“The visuals we have been seeing are very devastating because we know that they will end with increased poverty and destitution for the majority of South Africans,” Pakati said.
“They are not only counter-productive, but they are also actively working to undo the gains of our democracy and they are a frontal attack on the conditions of the poor and working class.”
Pakati said the municipality was coordinating with the SAPS to protect the city.
“Already, there is enhanced police and law enforcement visibility in many areas of our city to manage any outbreak of looting violence.
“We have decided not to take any changes, its best we err on the side of caution,” he said.
“We want to plead with residents of our metro to play their part by refusing to participate in acts of destruction of property and looting. Residents should also play their part by actively reporting any suspicious activities to the police and other law enforcement agencies.”
Pakati said that discussions were under way between representatives of local businesses and taxi associations, who have pledged to assist law enforcement.
“We are noting that many businesses in our city have decided to take pre-cautionary measures of closing their operations and we are hoping that the joint law enforcement efforts we are making will eventually assure these businesses of the safety of their operations,” he said.
“We must commend the residents of our metro for not participating in the acts of looting despite the sinister mobilisation that was happening on social media.
“It is very encouraging that our residents are choosing to protect our economy, our jobs and our livelihoods.”