The Western Cape is ready to deal with riots, Premier Alan Winde said on Tuesday as neighbourhood watch patrollers took charge at malls in their communities following several threats of looting.
A plan was outlined yesterday during a digital conference attended by Winde, MEC for Community Safety Albert Fritz, MEC for Transport and Public Works Daylin Mitchell and provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile.
Winde said social media reports of looting at a Makro store in Montague Gardens and Town Centre mall in Mitchells Plain were fake.
Fearing that the province would be fall prey to the same violent looting that has rocked KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, where riots have continued despite 2500 SANDF troops being deployed, malls and businesses in Cape Town shut down for a second day in a row.
Widespread lawlessness has erupted since the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma on Friday, and has claimed the lives of 45 people including a metro police officer in Ekurhuleni, while cops have arrested a reported over 750 looters.
Yesterday, Echo neighbourhood watch lined up outside the Delft Mall to defend it.
Chairperson Susan Jantjies says they waited for 32 years to get a shopping centre and they will not let it be destroyed.
“We woke up at 5.30am and went to the mall. That is not something new, but this time we were there not just to look out for the people who are robbed daily, but also the shops, she said.
“We try our best to safeguard our community and letting looters do that would not be right because we’ve lived in Delft for many years and we didn’t have a mall and now that we have one we have to keep it running.”
The mall was closed for a few hours but then consumers were allowed to do their shopping.
In Gugulethu, the CPF confirmed neighbourhood watch members were deployed in identified looting hotspots, including Gugulethu Square, Charlesville Mall and Nyanga Junction.
Meanwhile in Mitchells Plain Town Centre, three men were arrested after they tried to rob a shop.
A video of people running amok circulated on social media, with many believing looting was in progress.
However Premier Winde confirmed: “It was dealt with by the police, it was a robbery not related to looting.”
Town Centre, Mitchells Plain. Video supplied
Law enforcement officers were also deployed at all Makro branches after threats of looting.
When the Daily Voice arrived at the Montague Gardens branch, workers were walking out of the building and cars were turned around as the store closed.
A text message accompanied by a picture of men armed with sticks toyi-toying towards a Makro store went viral but it turned out that the picture was from a protest in 2016.
Fritz said the Western Cape government was looking into prosecuting those disseminating fake news.
Police provincial commissioner Thembisile Patekile says they have posted cops at all malls.
“A detailed strategy has been put in place to respond to potential risks, and to ensure the necessary SAPS resources to maintain law and order in communities.
“Additional resources have been deployed to potential hotspots, and the SAPS have assured a quick response to any attempt to undermine law and order in the Western Cape.”
Patekile urged residents to contact 08600 10111 so police can respond to any incidents.
He asked residents to keep calm and “say no to looting”.