KZN Premier says rumours of national shutdown are taken seriously, calls for calm

In the wake of rumours of a national shutdown allegedly planned for Monday, 23 August 2021, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Premier Sihle Zikalala has advised employers and members of the public “to conduct their business as normal but exercise extra vigilance”.

Zikalala, however, said that the rumours are being taken “very” seriously and that “law enforcement agencies are fully prepared to safeguard the right to life, freedom of movement, property and any other eventuality”.

Meanwhile, the country’s security forces announced on Sunday that they are on high alert and ready to deal with any eventuality amidst threats of a national shutdown on Monday.

The national joint operational and intelligence structure (NatJOINTS) issued a warning to persons behind social media messages calling for a national shutdown that inciting violence is a criminal offence.

The rumoured national shutdown comes at the heels of July’s civil unrest which stemmed from #FreeJacobZuma protests following the former president’s incarceration for being in contempt of court.

Numerous arrests, including for looting, which was widely perpetrated during the unrest, and for inciting public violence, among other offences, were affected after the unrest.

In its Thursday, 30 August 2021, presentation to Parliament’s select committee on security and justice on the progress with cases and operations regarding the recent unrest in KZN and Gauteng, the national prosecuting authority (NPA) said four high profile cases involving incitement are under investigation in KZN, five in Gauteng and one in the Western Cape.

Former Ukhozi FM Dj Ngizwe Mchunu was among the people arrested for incitement to public violence following the civil unrest.

On Sunday, 22 August 2021, Zikalala, called for calm as rumours on social media of a planned national stay away on Monday intensified.

Zikalala said the rumours are also based on a poster that has been widely circulated on social media announcing a national shutdown as well as a march through the city of Durban on Monday.

“We wish to state first and foremost that as the government of the people, we stand ready to engage and listen to the concerns of all citizens or any sector of our society.

“Protests and marches are legal in South Africa, which means that they must be conducted in terms of the law and national lockdown regulations. This right must never be used to infringe on the freedom of others.

“We wish to reiterate our position that as far as government is concerned, tomorrow is a normal working day. We call for calm as we are not aware of anyone who is authorised to carry out a shutdown of businesses tomorrow, or any other time,” Zikalala said.

The premier added that law-enforcement authorities have been alerted of this possible development and are ready to deal with the situation to ensure law and order in the province.

“We are in the process of economic recovery and rebuilding of the province following the recent civil unrest. We need to protect and save jobs and livelihoods of citizens.  We must not be distracted from our mission which is to reignite economic growth and to create much-needed jobs,” Zikalala said.

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