Members of the uMzumbe local municipality on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast have expressed their concerns over the high levels of crime which have escalated since the country went under lockdown.
Police Minister Minister Bheki Cele led a delegation which included his deputy Cassel Mathale, KZN Transport MEC Bheki Ntuli and South African Police Service (SAPS) Commissioner General Kehla Sitole on a fact-finding mission in the area on Friday, 29 May 2020.
The visit is in response to countless calls and complaints by community members, some of whom have either lost family members to shooting incidents, or have been victims of house robberies.
Imaginably, police in the area have had their hands full investigating several incidents, some which include people who have been killed since the lockdown.
In one incident, an elderly woman and her daughter were fatally shot. Some of the murders have been linked to house robberies while the motive in other incidents is yet to be determined.
So far, two suspects have been arrested and are being profiled by the police to establish possible connections to other incidents after suspected property in an abandoned property was discovered in an abandoned house in the Qoloqolo area.
“While en route to Umthwalume High School, Minister of Police and his entourage walked from Umzumbe municipal offices to a nearby shopping centre and taxi rank and observed with concern the low levels of compliance especially in relation to the wearing of face masks in public spaces during the COVID-19 disaster management lockdown”, said Ministry spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters.
“General Kehla Sitole swiftly mobilised and arranged for face masks which were handed out to shoppers and commuters; while Minister Cele and his entourage used the opportunity to educate the public on the importance of wearing masks, maintaining a social distance and exercising even greater personal responsibility as Level 3 of the COVID-19 looms”, Peters said.
Increased killings in the province should be prioritized
Cele has also expressed worry over the rising cases of murder in the province and called on the national and provincial leadership to look into the matter with urgency.
“It is quite concerning that while most provinces have seen a decline in the contact crime category, KwaZulu-Natal appears to be leading with murders since the lockdown. This current state of affairs needs to be halted before it escalates”, the minister said.
“Police must be capacitated to ensure a balance between enforcing lockdown regulations and fulfilling their constitutional mandate of preventing and combating crime,” Cele continued.