Durban — Community police forums have expressed differing opinions on the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) report into the 2021 July unrest released on Monday, which revealed that South African law enforcement failed to execute its safeguarding plan in order to protect the victims during the riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
The SAHRC held eight months of public hearings to investigate the July 2021 unrest, from November 2021 to June 2022.
Njabulo Mgeyane of eThekwini Neighbourhood Watch said the findings were not surprising because the police force was outnumbered during the 2021 July unrest.
“I think the police did the best they could to control the situation. They could have done more if they had not faced the challenge of being under-resourced, which I believe contributed to the lack of capacity established by the human rights commission,” said Mgeyane.
He added that he believed the number of those who lost their lives would have been “extremely dreadful” if the police neglected the public.
The SAHRC’s hearings panel heard 54 oral testimonies, with more than 120 written submissions.
A community police forum member from Ntuzuma township, Andile Jali, who applauded the SAHRC for the findings, revealed said the police not only lacked resources but failed to detect the planning and execution of the unrest and looting.
“What the SAHRC reported is true. We were available as community policing forum committees but the police force did not bother to engage us in order to combat the situation. We are all aware that the SAPS lacks manpower and resources, but if they had allowed us to help where we could at that time, the situation would have been much controllable,” said Jali.
In an interview with Newzroom Afrika, Manhar Parshotam of Dragon Protection Services said the security companies were also prepared in terms of providing the appropriate manpower to prevent perpetrators from moving into the homes of the victims.
“It seems that the police no longer have an interest in nation building and safeguarding the public, or ensuring its full progress. It does not make sense as to why the intelligence network would not have information on actors who were involved in such syndicates while there were instigators on social media sharing statements and videos which were spearing violence,” said Parshotam.
The 252-page report produced by the SAHRC, which is available on the organisation’s website, covers violent events that took place in July 2021
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