The justice, crime prevention and security cluster has condemned the acts of violence and criminality witnessed in Johannesburg on Thursday, allegedly by a group of foreigners who attacked the police.
In videos that went viral, police and Johannesburg Metro Police Department nyalas were seen coming under attack from a mob that pelted the vehicles with bricks, preventing officers from conducting a raid to seize counterfeit goods.
In a statement on Friday, the cluster said the shocking and appalling behaviour by the mob to prevent law enforcement agencies from carrying out their duties would not be tolerated.
“An attack on law enforcement agencies is an attack on the state, and the government views this in the most serious light. Blatant disregard for our law threatens national security and the sovereignty of our nation.
“Every citizen and foreign national must be aware that the government will not tolerate lawlessness, criminality and illegal violent protests. South Africa is governed by the rule of law and the government views such criminal activities as an attack on the state and abuse of democratic rights,” it said.
“South Africa as a constitutional democracy governed by laws and as such we expect everyone working and living in the country to be doing so legally and in accordance with South Africa’s laws. No person, under any circumstances, has the right to attack officials discharging their duties.
“The country’s law enforcement will act decisively and not allow lawlessness and anarchy to prevail. Those found guilty will face the full might of the law.”
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who is the cluster’s chairperson, said the blatant attack on the police as well as the vandalism and destruction of property, especially during a crackdown on counterfeit goods, would not be allowed to continue.
“The sale of counterfeit goods negatively affects South Africa’s economy, and the consequence of not taking action results in genuine goods and brands losing sales and profits. It also poses health risks to ordinary consumers.
“Crime prevention is a priority of the government and we call on society to continue strengthening collective efforts to reduce crime in South Africa. This will assist in ensuring that lawlessness is not tolerated in our country,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.
The cluster said it would liaise with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to engage embassies to encourage their citizens to respect the laws of South Africa.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has reassured tourists that it is safe to travel to South Africa.
Kubayi-Ngubane said the safety of tourists remained a top priority for the government.
“Despite the few isolated incidents that paint South Africa negatively, our country remains a preferred destination for the film industry, weddings and honeymooners as well as lifestyle, music and cultural events, with most of these drawing significant numbers of travellers.
“In relation to incidents that have happened recently, we are happy the police have taken action to ensure perpetrators are arrested within a reasonable time.”
She said her department was currently finalising a safety strategy that would be launched soon, as announced in her budget vote in June.
“We call on communities to isolate those who try to portray our country in a negative manner and urge them to report any suspicious activity. As tourists come into the country, they contribute to our economy and job creation, hence we must at all times ensure they enjoy a typical proudly South African experience and feel welcome on our shores,” added Kubayi-Ngubane.