The National Director of Public Prosecutions and the rest of the NPA leadership were monitoring developments relating to the violent unrest and “criminal looting” in parts of the country.
PRETORIA – The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has warned protesters in South Africa who have left a trail of destruction through extensive vandalism and looting that the law will take its course and there will be consequences for lawlessness.
“As South Africans, we have the right to voice our opinions and express our discontent through various lawful channels, including peaceful protest action,” NPA national spokesperson advocate Mthunzi Mhaga said in a statement.
“However, violent protests and criminal looting undermine the rule of law, and will damage our country’s economy and development prospects, at a very difficult time when we are in the grips of a debilitating third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
He said the National Director of Public Prosecutions and the rest of the NPA leadership were monitoring developments relating to the violent unrest and “criminal looting” in parts of the country.
“The violence is not only criminal, it also destroys the livelihoods of many of our fellow South Africans, in particular the poor and most vulnerable, and will disproportionately affect women and children,” said Mhaga.
“The NPA has confidence that law enforcement authorities and (the military) will appropriately address the situation and do what is necessary to prevent further violence and acts of criminality. In particular, the focus must be on bringing to justice those responsible for incitement to commit acts of violence and other forms of criminal conduct.”
The NPA said it was coordinating closely with relevant government departments to ensure full and transparent accountability for anyone accused of committing or inciting crimes linked to these violent protests and looting.
“The deputy national director of public prosecutions: head of the national prosecutions service has advised directors of public prosecutions in affected divisions to prioritise these matters, and to refer the cases to prosecutors with the requisite experience, who must work with and guide police in their investigations. Should any special arrangements need to be made with regard to courts, this will be discussed with the relevant stakeholders,” said Mhaga.
“As lawyers for the people of South Africa, the NPA will uphold the rule of law by ensuring that justice is delivered without fear, favour or prejudice. We urge our fellow South Africans to exercise restraint, to respect the rule of law, and to utilise lawful means to protest and make your voices heard; otherwise, nobody wins.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night authorised the deployment of the South African National Defence Force to support the South African Police Service in quelling the violence, which has its roots in protests which began last week against the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma for contempt of court.