Organised violence in which people within the construction and freight sectors were targeted in KwaZulu-Natal is threatening to tarnish the image of the province as an investment destination.
This was the warning issued by KZN Safety MEC Mxolisi Kaunda when he tabled his department’s budget at a full sitting of the KZN Legislature on Tuesday.
He told members of the Provincial Legislature that in recent years there has been a rise in the trend of attacks by individuals who were trying to extort money from businesspeople, companies and government. “This has come at great costs to ordinary law-abiding citizen trying to make a living in KZN, now having to engage in additional measures to protect their safety and property,” said Kaunda.
“If left unchecked,” the MEC continued, “the reputation of the province and country as an investment destination would be adversely affected.”
The remarks come after a string of episodes in the past weeks and months where trucks have been torched along the N3, and construction has been interrupted on some sites by groupings who demand a slice of the tenders. The groupings have styled themselves as advocates of economic transformation who want local labour to be employed, especially in the trucking industry.
The MEC told MPLs that while government was sensitive to the underlying causes in some of the sectors, the administration would not be bullied into submission by people who use violence. “We wish to send a strong message to these groups – violence will not be tolerated and the rule of law will be upheld without exception. South Africa does not aspire to be a banana republic,” Kaunda stressed.
According to the MEC, one of the reasons behind the rise in violent crime in KZN was the proliferation of illegal guns, and this was reflected by the 4,837 firearms recovered by the police between April 2017 and March 2018. These included 574 rifles, 242 shotguns and 3,765 pistols which were found in different parts of KZN including Richmond, uMsinga and uMzimkhulu. The guns were suspected to be used in taxi conflict, hostel and political killings.
Kaunda also said the killing of public representatives, whether political leaders or administrators, remains a concern for government. “The assassination of public figures is destabilising governance and instills fear among that being a public representative is the shortest route to the grave,” said the MEC.
He reported that since the setting up of the Police Task Team on killings, 174 people have been arrested with 29 convictions secured in 170 cases allocated to the team. He added that as investigations continue, the police should be allowed to conduct their work without any interruption. “No matter who is the suspect, be it a politician, businessman or anyone holding a position in the society, the law must take its course.”
He promised that with the department’s R235 million they would continue with a string of campaigns including drug awareness campaign, school safety and hostels peace initiative, while also clamping down on incidents of stock theft which continues to rise.
– African News Agency (ANA)