Home South African State of emergency not on cards yet, says defence minister

State of emergency not on cards yet, says defence minister

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A state of emergency is not on the cards yet for South Africa amid ongoing civil unrest, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said.

Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. File picture

DEFENCE Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has moved to quell suggestions that a state of emergency could be invoked amid the ongoing civil unrest, saying that although the unrest was concerning, the situation was not yet at a stage to warrant a state of emergency.

“For now the situation, yes the situation looks like it has gone out of hand and we are all concerned about what is happening, but when he has been advised the president will then declare a state of emergency if a need arises based on that assessment report,” she said.

The ongoing civil unrest, which has swept KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, has seen what were initially termed the Free Jacob Zuma and Shutdown protests turn into violence, destruction of property and looting of businesses.

Mapisa-Nqakula, alongside State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and Police Minister Bheki Cele, addressed a media briefing of the security cluster on Tuesday in the wake of the civil unrest that has engulfed both KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in recent days.

The violence, looting and destruction of property has seen police arrest around 758 suspects, with 304 being nabbed in KwaZulu-Natal and 454 arrested in Gauteng.

Amid fears of the unrest spiralling beyond government’s control, the SA National Defence Force has been deployed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to both provinces. However Mapisa-Nqakula said that the declaration of a state of emergency was currently not on the cards.

She said that assessments of the situation were constantly being conducted and that it was those reports that would help Ramaphosa decide whether to institute a state of emergency in the country.

“For now, yes, people are in a state of panic, we are all concerned by what is happening but whether it would be correct for now to declare a state of emergency, we do not think so,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

“As you would know … a state of emergency in a sense will take all the liberties from citizens and the military takes over the country. For now we do not think we have reached that point.”

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