Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

DA calls for urgent talks with Ramaphosa and other party leaders over unrest intelligence debacle

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Jul 30, 2021

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Johannesburg - DA leader John Steenhuisen has asked for an urgent meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa and leaders of other opposition parties to discuss the security and intelligence services mishaps during the violent protests in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Steenhuisen said he wrote the letter on Friday and had also requested the presence of State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and Police Minister Bheki Cele in that meeting.

“I have today written to President Ramaphosa to request a meeting between himself, the leaders of the opposition parties, the Minister of State Security, Ayanda Dlodlo and the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, in order to establish precisely what happened in the week leading up to the looting and unrest in KwaZulu-Natal, and later in Gauteng too.

“Specifically, the meeting should clarify who knew what about the violence that was to come, when they knew it and what they then did about it,” Steenhuisen said.

He said Dlodlo was on record having said that she handed an intelligence report to law enforcement agencies warning of possible unrest days before it started, and Cele is also on record denying that he ever had sight of such a report.

“This discrepancy needs to be cleared up,” Steenhuisen said.

He said his party’s latest latest information was that such a notice – given “orange” status by State Security – was indeed presented to the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) on June 30, and that subsequent briefings happened daily after that, warning of the threat to shopping centres and main transport routes.

“If this is the case, and if Minister Cele says that he had no sight of such a notice or briefings, then the question is: who took the decision to disregard a notice deemed serious enough to be given orange status by State Security, or to deliberately withhold it from the Police Minister, and why?” Steenhuisen asked.

According to Steenhuisen, crime Intelligence and SAPS were caught napping, and when they eventually did respond, it was insufficient and disjointed saying if it turns out that this was because a credible intelligence report was either ignored or concealed, those responsible must face the consequences.

He was adamant those found guilty certainly could not continue to serve on the Executive.

“Over 330 South Africans died in the violence, tens of billions of rands were lost to theft and damage to property and infrastructure, hundreds of thousands of jobs and livelihoods are in peril and these events have been widely described as an attempted insurrection. The response has to be swift and decisive, and all parties need to be informed and on board.

“The meeting I have requested with the President will offer Minister Dlodlo the opportunity to set out, for the benefit of those outside the governing party, the timeline of events leading up to the violence and looting, as well as the details of the reports and briefings that were given to NATJOINTS.

“It will also offer Minister Cele the opportunity to explain how much of this he was privy to, and why it took Crime Intelligence and SAPS so long to react,” Steenhuisen said.

He said it was critical that these questions were not posed and answered behind the cloak and dagger veil of secrecy that has characterised the security cluster to date, and which was heavily criticised in the Mufamadi high level panel report.

“What happened in KZN and Gauteng was an attack on the citizens of our country. They deserve nothing less than full transparency and accountability,” Steenhuisen emphasised.

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Political Bureau

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