As the Xenophobic violence continues to spread in South Africa, the country’s security agencies appears not to be serious with the case and seems not to know how to respond.
Recall that there have been videos showing and accusations by Nigerians of the South African Police not doing anything but chase later at comfort during these attacks.
According to City Press, South African police’s crime intelligence – the unit primarily responsible for collecting information on behalf of the police – “has been hampered by instability and infighting in the upper echelons”.
It happens that in the meeting with Nigerian envoy sent last week, no intelligence was brought forward when the police’s top brass gathered in two meetings to discuss the violence.
This has been considered disrespectful by various commentators and analysts as this violence also brought to fore a possible diplomatic fallout between Nigeria and South Africa.
Among the officials in attendance were Gauteng community safety MEC, Faith Mazibuko; Ekurhuleni mayor, Mzwandile Masina, Gauteng education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi and provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela.
A senior police officer who attended the meeting said there was no intelligence presented or any plan of action on how to deal with the acts of violence and looting.
The source said:
Mawela told us that these were acts of criminality, but he could not explain who was behind them … We did not know what we were dealing with. There was no plan of action.
“It appears that there is a leadership vacuum with regard to intelligence-gathering. Even after so many hours of discussions, we could not come up with a 72-hour plan of action.
This account of events was corroborated by another official, who was also part of the meeting, and said the police promised to formulate a plan to deal with the “acts of criminality” within 72 hours.
According to the source, the violence was blamed on the striking truck drivers in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as hostel leaders and taxi owners.
What became even more worrying, and added to the puzzle, were the attacks that occurred during violent evictions of foreign nationals, as well as some South Africans, at the Mandela section in Katlehong. These appeared to be acts of tribalism as the people who chased the residents out were isiZulu speakers and those targeted were mostly Xitsonga speakers from Mozambique and South Africa.
Everyone left without any plan of action on how to handle the violence. We were just handling the unrest as it happened, without any preventative measures being in place. Our intelligence is dead. You remember when the police were attacked in the Johannesburg CBD a few weeks ago – they went there without any intelligence about how many people [migrants who were selling counterfeit goods] and what they were armed with.
To make matters worst, a provincial police commissioner said there was no directive on how to handle the violence, leaving each provincial police chief to come up with their own strategies at provincial, cluster and police station level.
There was a lack of directives on who was behind the attacks and how to handle them. Those who have been arrested are mainly people who just joined in and started looting the shops – but they were not the masterminds.
“There is a fight at management level as well,” said another source, adding that more problems would arise if things “continued in the current state”.
Meanwhile, foreign government have indicating desire to send its police to help locals deal with their nationals – and push for the government to compensate its citizens for the loss of property or injuries sustained during the mayhem while others have taken it top notch by cancelling their participation at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town.
Even the national football team was left with no opponents after two countries pulled out, citing the violence as their reason for doing so.