Khumbudzo Ntshavheni

Minister of Small Business Development, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.
Photo: GCIS

Small Business Development Minister calls attacks on police acts of ‘terrorism’

Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says attacks on police by small business owners are attacks on the state, which would be tantamount to terrorism.

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni

Minister of Small Business Development, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.
Photo: GCIS

Minister of small business development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has slammed recent attacks on police by informal traders in the Johannesburg central business district (CBD), but warned leaders in South African not to use the situation to play politics.

On Thursday the week previous, police were reportedly pelted with stones as they conducted a raid of informal traders in the Joburg CBD to confiscate counterfeit goods.

Attacks on police are tantamount to terrorism

Ntshavheni highlighted how serious the actions were, stating that attacks on the police were attacks on the state of South Africa and, by definition, were a form of terrorism.

“Any attack on law enforcement in any other country is terrorism. An attack on the state is terrorism and it cannot be allowed,” she said at a media briefing on the incident.

Initial reports following the attacks suggested they were conducted by foreign nationals. Ntshavheni warned against continuing along that line of thinking as South Africa has a difficult recent past with regards to foreign nationals and there has been no evidence to prove that it is fact.

“The police have not arrested anyone, so far, though they are going to make arrests. So you cannot say the people involved are foreign nationals because we don’t want to stir up emotions that are not there,” she said.

“We don’t have concrete evidence of who it was [that attacked police with stones in the Johannesburg CBD].”

No campaign against foreign nationals

The South African Police Service has been accused of targeting foreign nationals in their raid for counterfeit goods, but Ntshavheni insists officers were there for illegal goods and it did not matter who was selling them.

“There were people who went on TV and said there were foreign nationals involved in the stoning of police. If there were, we have the responsibility for the police to arrest them and bring them to book,” she explained.

“The police did not go there with a mission against foreign nationals. They were going to deal with reports that counterfeit goods were being sold in particular instances and they were going to raid and confiscate those goods, as is the requirement of the law.”

Support only for legal small business and traders

Ntshavheni added that even though her the aim of her department was to support small business and trading in South Africa, it could only do so for those operating legally and respecting the rule of law.

While the narrative of the raid has shifted quite dramatically since it was executed, it is important to remember the ultimate goal of the raid was to remove illegal goods from circulation. Illegal goods that, according to Ntshavheni, have cost the local economy in Johannesburg R350 million since December last year.

Following a meeting between the minister and small business leaders, it was decided that more regulation was needed for informal traders in the city of Johannesburg.