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Calls for Kimberley shutdown condemned, NC police prepared for any acts of violence, looting

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“The SAPS will not tolerate any situation where community members participate in or instigate actions in the Northern Cape such as those currently happening in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.”

File picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

THE NORTHERN Cape SAPS has assured residents that it is prepared for any acts of violence, vandalism and looting that might spread to the Province following the unrest and riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Panic spread through Kimberley on Monday after a post circulated on social media calling for a city-wide shutdown.

The post, hashtagged ‘ReleaseMsholoziNow, HandsOffMsholozi, WenzeniuZuma and 100%Behindzuma’, called on supporters of jailed former president Jacob Zuma to attend a meeting at the Galeshewe circle on Monday.

The police said they are aware of the post and warned that such gatherings are not allowed under the current lockdown regulations.

It is still unknown as to where the post originated and who is behind it.

Northern Cape police spokesperson Colonel Mashay Gamieldien said on Monday that there had been no incidents of unrest reported in the Province.

She urged business owners and the management of malls and shopping centres not to panic and close their doors early as this creates unnecessary panic, which plays into the hands of criminal elements.

She further pleaded with residents to refrain from circulating false information via social media platforms as it created unnecessary fear and panic.

“The SAPS has noted the numerous videos and messages that have been posted on social media platforms calling for a shutdown in Kimberley and a meeting that is scheduled for 6pm today (Monday) at the Galeshewe circle. In the event of any eventuality, contingency plans are in place to police such incidents,” warned Gamieldien.

“The SAPS in the Province will not tolerate any situation where community members will participate and instigate such actions in the Province as are currently happening in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, where wanton criminality and looting is taking place.”

The post caused enough panic in the city that the Galeshewe Plaza and the Diamond Pavilion Mall both decided to close at 4pm on Monday as a precautionary measure.

The Galeshewe Plaza centre manager said that security will be beefed up to prevent any possible damages, as were experienced during the previous city-wide shutdown.

“We have been monitoring the situation since we learnt of the circulating post. It is a big concern that we are situated in the centre of Galeshewe, where all tenants are at risk,” said the centre manager.

The community organisation, Kimberley Action Group condemned the post and the “irresponsible” behaviour of the individuals who shared the post. The group also distanced itself from the call for a community meeting to be held at the Galeshewe circle.

Residents also condemned the circulating posts.

Tumelo Mosikare, from Galeshewe, said the Province and the city were already facing too many of their own challenges to be now lured into criminal behaviour influenced from outside of the Province.

“Someone is trying to manipulate the situation so that they get people to loot, like in other provinces. As much as there may be a genuine hunger among the people, what is happening in other parts of the country should not be happening in Kimberley,” said Mosikare.

The leader of the Save Tsantsabane Coalition (STC), Michael Mabilo, also condemned the post and the acts of violence and looting that are taking place in other parts of the country.

“We won’t support this or tolerate it. It will be chaotic for the Province if this spreads here,” said Mabilo.

“The people of this campaign are targeting and lobbying among the unemployed and poor people.

“Unemployment and poor infrastructure is already lacking in our Province so it will be inconsiderate to destroy more.”

The chairperson of the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) in the Northern Cape, Abraham Malo, indicated that he is positive that the protests will not spread to the Northern Cape.

“It is unfortunate that the law enforcement reacted so late in the other provinces, where millions were lost by the businesses,” said Malo.

“We are already concerned about what is happening to the economy, which is already suffering in terms of jobs.

“We hope that it will not happen here because it will be devastating for such a small economy.”

The CEO of the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci), Sharon Steyn, also condemned the online posts and the violent unrest in other Provinces.

“We are already suffering due to the pandemic and do not need this,” said Steyn. “The people behind these posts will be destroying themselves because the business sector is being targeted.”

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