The independent business community Sakeliga has called upon the private sector – businesses and communities – to be forceful in restoring law and order throughout the country. It attributes this necessity to the failure of government to take appropriate action to protect lives and property.
Riots have broken out across the country, apparently in response to the recent imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma for contempt of court. Multiple businesses, large and small, have been looted or burned down. Many rioters want President Cyril Ramaphosa to free Zuma from captivity before they cease their rioting.
In a press release issued on Monday, Sakeliga welcomed “all lawful and responsible interventions” by the private sector, including security firms, individual citizens, safety forums, and businesses, to protect life and property from the criminal rioters. Whatever capacity government has available must be deployed in support of private efforts, the business group said.
Sakeliga believes the unrest is largely as a result of the economic devastation caused over the preceding year by the government’s COVID-19 lockdown, which the business group had warned since March 2020 could happen if the restrictions were not lifted. “Lockdowns wreak havoc with complex social systems and therefore risk creating unpredictable and compounded problems for communities and businesses”, reads the press release. Even if Zuma had not been brought to justice, Sakeliga submits, there would have been another trigger for the large number of young South Africans now sitting idly at home – and there likely will be similar events of this nature in the future.
By forcing law-abiding South Africans to largely stay home, government has left public spaces entirely to the whims of criminal elements. “Busy daily life in the public domain puts a significant check on criminal and antisocial behaviour”, argues the business group.
Sakeliga is of the view that security networks between businesses, chambers of commerce, and communities will become increasingly important in the maintenance of law and order in South Africa’s future.