‘The day has started well’ – Police Minister
Minister of police Bheki Cele said that the National Shutdown has started well.
Widespread disruption has been expected today as the EFF has organized a National Shutdown to call for President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down and for load-shedding to end.
87 protestors have been arrested nationwide in the last 12 hours in connection with the shutdown, according to the latest information on the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) official Twitter page.
Cele said earlier this morning that most of the arrests have been made in Gauteng, followed by the Free State, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu Natal.
In addition to the arrests, at least 24,300 tires that were “strategically placed for acts of criminality”, have been confiscated by SAPS.
Cele said that indication so far this morning is that many people are going to work and that the “situation appears to be normal”.
Developments so far
There were “problems” in Braamfontein last night, with students and members of the EFF blocking roads and stamping on the roofs or cars, according to Cele.
Police used stun grenades and made arrests in the area in response to the action.
All the students who were arrested last night have allegedly been released, according to a Twitter post that the EFF retweeted.
He said one bus has been attacked in Cape Town and a forest in Richards Bay has been burnt down.
News24 reported that a team of SABC reporters attempting to report on the shutdown was attacked while travelling on the N2 in Cape Town. An object was thrown at their vehicle and a member of the team was taken to hospital for treatment.
The Western Cape and Gauteng High Courts have interdicted the EFF from inciting violence and intimidating South Africans.
Fears of violence
There have been widespread fears of violence from the shutdown.
Ramaphosa said in a statement this morning that the Constitution protects people’s right to protest but that right cannot infringe on the constitutional rights afforded to others.
“One person’s right to protest should in no way infringe on any other person’s right to life and dignity. It should not impede their freedom of movement and association or their right to engage in their trade or profession without hindrance,” he said.
The EFF is also voicing concerns related to issues such as load-shedding and unemployment.
The CEO of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), Cas Coovadia, said that BUSA identifies with some of the issues raised by the EFF, but told ENCA that, “the way to deal with the ills in our country is to attract investment and enable our economy to grow”.
He said that a stay-away will be counter-productive as it sends a negative message to investors about the country.
Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busisiwe Mavuso echoed the concerns of the shutdown being counterproductive.
“While those calling for a shutdown claim to care about developing our country, their actions are having the opposite effect,” she said.