Fikile Mbalula condemns Rustenburg violence

Minister says taking the law into own hands makes people same as those they accuse of being criminals

Fikile Mbalula condemns Rustenburg violence

11 January 2018

Rustenburg - Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula has condemned the violence that brought Rustenburg to a standstill on Wednesday afternoon and appealed with communities to work with police.

"No matter how justified people might think they are, taking the law into their own hands does not make them different to the people they accuse of being criminals.

"People must know we are a democratic state, with competent institutions to resolve these matters," a statement from Mbalula's office read.

Several houses were torched at 18:00 on Wednesday, after violence erupted at a local taxi rank.

Rustenburg Mayor Mpho Khunou claims that the protests were a case of mob justice.

"Members of the community, together with the taxi drivers, targeted areas well-known for drugs, prostitution and human trafficking," he said.

"We worked with the police all through the night at the Rustenburg Civic Centre and eventually we reached a level of calm. There have been no disturbances since," Khunou added.

Preparing for possible unrest

However, police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone predicts that there may be continued disturbances.

"Things went quiet at around 21:00 last night, but we are prepared for more unrest and we have deployed teams on the ground," he confirmed.

Mbalula also called for the local police to work with members of the public.

"Police must smoke criminals out of our communities, but our people must work close with the police. If the local police fail them, they must escalate the matter."

Police are investigating the events leading up to the unrest.

"We can't say anything at this stage, but we are investigating. At the moment there are a number of people coming forward with allegations, so we can only comment after the investigation has been concluded," Mokgwabone added.

He confirmed that a police officer was arrested, but made it clear that the arrest was unrelated to the protests.

"A policeman was arrested for allegedly dealing drugs, but this happened before the protests. It is unrelated," he said.

Both Khunou and Mokgwabane warned the public against taking the law into their own hands.

"We understand the concerns of the community, but these things must be dealt with within the confines of the law," said Khunou.