“We have it on good authority that the South African Police Service will not be able to contain or prevent a repeat of 2021’s riots in the country,” says Ian Cameron, the Director of Community Safety at Action Society. “This is concerning in the light of recent unrest linked to loadshedding, poor service delivery and clashes with illegal foreigners.”
Monday (16 January 2023) saw an upheaval of civil unrest throughout South Africa. Most provinces recorded some minor incidents of unrest, apart from violence that erupted in Johannesburg CBD.
“Cops on the ground have communicated to us that they are ill-equipped, outnumbered and some even poorly trained,” said Cameron. “Many cops have expressed severe frustration to Action Society regarding working conditions, stating that police management is simply throwing cops on the streets to the wolves instead of giving them the relevant support.
Action Society strongly urges communities to organise themselves with the relevant communication structures to safeguard themselves should major unrest break out and spread again.
Action Society compiled some practical steps for safety below:
- Find out whether there are any community safety structures like farm- or neighbourhood watches or Community Police Forums (CPF) in your area. The more law-abiding citizens participate in different legal crime prevention campaigns, the better for us all.
- If you can, join a patrol group and participate in static or mobile patrols. Community patrols are highly effective, especially when they are done in various ways.
- Ensure that you are part of the community’s communication channels on WhatsApp or others. If there is no communication channel available, enquire about different technologies that can be used.
- Take note of messages on the communication network, and do not share anything that has not been verified.
- If you have a firearm for self-defence, carry it with you and ensure you comply with legal requirements.
- During unrest, avoiding unnecessary travel in unstable regions is very important. If you really must travel and there is unrest in your area, make sure to use roads and routes where there is no debris or other obstruction. Also, be on the lookout for buildings or other objects that might be on fire and avoid those areas.
- If you could in any way be of help to the police or other emergency services, please offer your support. Remember, help could even be a glass of water or a cup of coffee.
If you can protect yourself, you can protect your family.
If you can protect your family, you can protect your neighbours.
If neighbours can protect each other, a community can be protected.