South Africa: Social Cohesion Programme to Promote Unity in KZN

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala says the provincial government has started a process towards engaging communities and has developed an intense social cohesion programme that will promote unity among Africans and Indians to ensure peace and harmony.

Zikalala said the Communities-in-Dialogue Programme will be activated on an urgent basis and will employ the services of conflict resolution facilitators. Instability and conflict management monitoring, and evaluation will also be conducted in order to determine the impact of interventions.

"We have tasked the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster to conduct workshops on the legal framework that regulates the operation of neighbourhood watch forums. Everyone must stick to this legal framework under the leadership of the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies," Zikalala said.

Giving an update on the situation on the ground following the recent unrest, Zikalala said the provincial government has consulted with its social partners, including political parties, business, traditional leaders, religious leaders and transport operators, in order to respond collectively to the crisis.

The "build back better" response is based on the following:

Security: ensuring the security of persons, property, essential services and business.

Coordination: establishing a coordinated effort in recovering the economy with all organs of State.

Township and Rural Economy: focusing on the re-ignition of township and rural economies. This is with clear and concise actions to ensure not only food security, but also employment creation. Flagship projects like bulk buying will be accelerated to ensure access of products to spaza shops in the townships; and

Addressing generalised anxiety induced by the unrest by rolling out social cohesion and moral regeneration programmes.

Zikalala said the province has focused its attention on the security of corridors like the N3 and the N2, to facilitate the smooth and secure transit of fuel and food supplies.

In the coming days, the focus will be on stabilising the situation and easing supply chain logistics and production.

The focus is also on ensuring the commercial viability of ports, road and rail networks and the continued functioning of the Dube Trade Port.

"Working with law enforcement agencies, we are ensuring the safety of businesses. Besides restoring law and order, we are focusing our energies on putting in place strategies and mechanisms to detect and deter future unrests.

"In this regard, the provincial joint operations committee (JOC) has been activated to monitor, coordinate and fast track an integrated response and recovery in the province.

"The quantification of damages (in terms of the infrastructure) continues, and is being coordinated at municipality level by all organs of State and stakeholders, as coordinated and facilitated by the relevant clusters," Zikalala said.

He acknowledged companies like Toyota and Massmart, which have publicly committed to continue operating in the province.

Concerns over vigilante-linked murders

While stability and order has returned to most parts of the province, Zikalala raised concerned about vigilante-linked murders reported in some areas in the north of Durban.

According to reports, at least 38 people have been killed by vigilante groups.

"These murders are not only from Phoenix but also in Inanda and Verulam areas. Since then, the Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele, has assigned a team of top detectives from eThekwini to lead the investigations.

"Those who died in the unrest include Africans and Indians, although the proportion of Africans who died is much higher. So far, at least five people have been arrested and more arrests are still expected," Zikalala said.

The Premier reported that at least 251 people are reported to have died and the police are investigating 163 cases of murder; 87 inquest dockets have been opened and 20 arrests effected in relation to cases of murder related to the unrest.

As of Saturday morning, a total of 2 763 suspects were arrested in the province over the recent looting, with the majority arrested for possession of stolen goods.

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