Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality says it strongly condemns the call for a shutdown in the city and will not tolerate any incitement to commit violence or intimidation of those who do not wish to participate.
“The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality will not shutdown during these tough economic times we need to open our economy – not shut it down,” the Mayor’s Office said.
“Whilst we respect the right to protest, South Africa is a Constitutional State that subscribes to the rule of law.”
The city said the planned protests led by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) falls on the day before we celebrate Human Rights Day on 21 March 2023, when many South Africans celebrate the dignity afforded to them by the South African Constitution.
“We want to assure the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay that 20 March 2023 will be a normal business day, contrary to the pronouncement by those advocating for any disruption.”
Meanwhile, the municipality said it has put measures in place to ensure that everyone who wants to go to work, travel for leisure and conduct business on this day does so in a safe and secure environment.
In addition, the city said anyone who intimidates, stops anyone from going to work, barricades the roads and highways and uses any form of violence to try and stop people from going on with their lives will face the full might of the law.
The Executive Mayor, Retief Odendaal, said the safety of citizens, property and infrastructure remains as the top priority.
“The impact of the planned shutdown will also have a significant impact on the city’s economy, and we cannot allow that. As an employee, you have the right to go to your place of employment; nobody can deprive you of that. The problem with the South African economy is that it’s not inclusive, but you won’t get a more inclusive economy by shutting it down.”
The city said the Nelson Mandela Bay law enforcement officers will be out in their numbers to protect the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay, whilst enforcing the law.
In addition, the South African Police Service (SAPS), metro police, traffic services, fire department, private security companies and neighbourhood watches will be working together to ensure citizens can move freely in and around the city.
“Our law enforcement agencies are ready to deal with anyone who seeks to cause disorder or anarchy. Acts of violence, intimidation and destruction of property are criminal offences and the police must arrest and prosecute those who commit such acts,” said Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Safety and Security, Lawrence Troon.
Meanwhile, the city said most communities and various sectors including various taxi associations, Road Freight Association, and organised structures have rejected the call to shutdown.
The municipality has urged residents to report incidents to the SAPS as swift action will be taken against any perpetrators.
“Our country has witnessed senseless acts of violence, destruction of property and assets and the loss of life, all in the name of protests. We respect the right to peaceful protests for which the Constitution makes provision, we are condemning the incitement to violence and the intimidation and blatant threats to people’s lives and livelihoods."
The Nelson Mandela Bay calls on communities, faith leaders, our organised labour movement, formations of women, youth and our business sector, to join hands and condemn those seeking to wreak havoc.
Source: South African Government News Agency