South Africa: Government Moving to Deal With Richards Bay Unrest

KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Nomsa Dube-Ncube has assured the community and business in Richards Bay that government is moving with speed to deal with the social unrest which led to bus and taxi ranks shutting down earlier this week.

Speaking in her capacity as leader of government business in the province, Dube-Ncube said the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ), which is a government entity, has over the past years attracted more than R11 billion of foreign direct investment representing different key sectors of the economy.

She said thousands of job opportunities have been created in the process, with many households being lifted out of poverty.

"A few months ago, Rio Tinto invested more than $463 million into Richards Bay Minerals (RBM). Such an investment was a firm confirmation that foreign investors are choosing Richards Bay as a destination for investment. We need to maintain social stability in the area in order to attract more investments," Dube-Ncube said.

She said the department has received reports that community members, who are not happy with rampant crime, especially drug trafficking, have taken the law into their own hands.

"We have listened to audio clips and seen disturbing video clips of people being assaulted for allegedly using whoonga or being foreign nationals. Truck drivers also joined in the protest by blockading roads, with the city coming to a standstill," the MEC said.

She said the department is aware of the impasse between South Africans and truck drivers from neighbouring countries.

"We want to assure the business community and ordinary members of society that efforts are underway to avert what could lead to the collapse of our economy, especially, transport, export and import sectors.

"We will continue to be part of negotiations to find long lasting solutions. We support all efforts of the National Ministerial Task Team, SA Freight Association and forums representing truck drivers," Dube-Ncube said.

With regards to crime in general, the MEC said she had been assured by MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Mxolisi Kaunda, now eThekwini Municipality Mayor, that law enforcement agencies have been implored to fight any form of crime; ensure safe and stability in the area.

"Our main priority is innocent communities who must be protected from crime."

Dube-Ncube stressed the importance of continuous engagement on matters of socio-economic development, adding that she has scheduled visits to Richards Bay to interact with the community and the captains of industry.

She has further asked the business community to continue working with the provincial government, district and local municipalities in the fight against crime.

"Business often is the first target of criminals and working together will assist in their long-term protection. The businesses access to resources may prove to be a huge source of empowerment to many groupings that need to be empowered for them to make an impact in the fight against any form of crime," the MEC said.

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