“People are scared, which is understandable. They have already made a few phone calls informing them of situations they are aware of and also asking for guidance and expressing concern. This concern is normal, it is natural, and it should also lead people to take maximum precautions”, Berta Nunes told Lusa News Agency.
“In the area where a good part of the Portuguese community in Johannesburg is located, namely the consulate, so far there have been no disturbances, but we know that, both in KwaZulu-Natal and in Gauteng, were situations of Portuguese trade were looted,” said the official, who explained that six establishments were affected: three in KwaZulu-Natal province and three in Gauteng province.
The Secretary of State added that, "so far, although there have been these six situations already identified of Portuguese establishments that were looted and even set on fire, there is no death in the Portuguese community."
Still, Berta Nunes lamented “other deaths” that occurred during the riots. Authorities say at least 45 people have died and more than 700 have been detained in the violent riots afflicting South Africa for the sixth consecutive day after the arrest of Jacob Zuma, former head of state and former head of the African National Congress (ANC).
Berta Nunes advised the population not to go to the consulate in Johannesburg, as it is closed.
"It is closed in order to prevent people from going to the consulate, because the recommendation we are giving to the community is to avoid travel," she pointed out, detailing that the appeal was also made to, if they can, elements of the Portuguese community do not open businesses “in more complicated areas”.
"Today the ambassador is addressing a letter to the entire community to give some guidance", she pointed out, adding that community members in South Africa could, "if they need help, use the Consular Emergency Office" or contact the emergency telephone number of the consulate in Johannesburg.
The official said that at this time "it is necessary to be calm, to avoid leaving the house in areas where there are such disturbances, if possible also to avoid opening businesses in the most complicated areas and, as the Government is taking measures to normalize the situation", the Portuguese executive will also "follow closely".
“We hope that this situation will be resolved very soon”, he concluded.
It is estimated that more than 30,000 Portuguese live in Cape Town.