During the past few days I received numerous calls from people wanting to know how they can assure their safety and the safety of the people around them. The state is, as seen during the looting crisis this week, incapable of ensuring the safety of citizens and their property.
When lockdown started in 2020, the ANC deployed more than 70000 soldiers, but now, while parts of the country is destroyed and on fire, they can spare only 2500 troops (that has been increased slightly in the last 24hours). The South African Police Service (SAPS) have a huge shortfall of ammunition, people, and various other resources. Therefore they are not capable to restore law and order, let alone take any preventative action.
What can you do?
- Ensure you have all available emergency numbers at hand, especially those of your local community structures like neighbourhood watches, farm watches or community policing forums. It is also very important to stay in regular contact with neighbours to support and take care of each other.
- It is very important to avoid any unnecessary travel. Obviously basic errands need to be run and tasks completed. People living in areas where conflict intermittently flares up, like Gauteng and KZN, should especially adhere to this.
- If you have to travel, make sure to use roads and routes where there is no debris or other obstruction. Be on the lookout for buildings or any other objects that might be on fire and avoid those areas.
- Join your community’s safety structures like farm- or neighbourhood watch or Community Police Forum (CPF).
- Ensure that you are part of the community’s communication channels, like WhatsApp or others. Ensure that you take note of what is being said and do not share anything that has not been verified. We do not need fake news to cause further panic.
- If you have the ability, join the patrol group and whether they are static or mobile, take part in patrols.
- Make sure if you do take part in patrols, that you are not on your own. Always have at least one other person with you; two is always better than one.
- If you have a firearm for self-defence, carry it with you and make sure you comply with legal requirements.
- If you could in any way be of help to the police or other emergency services, please offer your help. Remember, help could be something as simple as a glass of water or a cup of coffee.
- Remember, 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.
Keep your heads up, we have no alternative – we rebuild and keep building.