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Revelations continue to unfold at SAHRC unrest hearing

KZN police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

KZN police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Published Dec 1, 2021


DURBAN - South African Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu is scheduled to testify before the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Wednesday during its probe into the July unrest.

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Zulu will deliver her testimony virtually, as will Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya from the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI), the Hawks.

KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi will continue his testimony on Wednesday, as delays left the commission unable to complete the day's programme yesterday.

Mkhwanazi denied allegations that he was on leave while the province was at the height of the unrest. He said, on July 18, after the riots had quelled, he asked the police minister if it was okay to go on paternity leave.

Four days after giving birth, Mkhwanazi’s wife, who is also a police officer, and the provincial commissioner drove for about a thousand kilometres out of the province due to safety concerns. He then returned for duty.

“Nobody knows those sacrifices that I had to make,” he told the commission, “but I did that because I love this job,” he said.

Mkhwanazi said policemen in the province were stretched in numbers and working hours during the unrest period, which according to police, occurred between 9-15 July.

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The regional commander said 281 civilian bodies were picked up during the period, while 26 police officers were left injured. 3,093 suspects linked to the unrest were arrested, and 7,122 case dockets were lodged.

In the high profile cases, where the instigators behind the unrest were named, Mkhwanazi said the dockets were handed over to the Hawks.

He said, in the Phoenix area, “some residents decided to turn it into a warzone”, 44 people were shot dead in the Phoenix, Chatsworth and Mountain Rise areas as a result of racial tension. He said after the unrest, some Indian people in Phoenix had worked with the police to bring the suspects to book.

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He said allegations that police in KZN that were asked to step down during the unrest was not true.

The national commissioner of police Khehla Sitole told the commission he had not been to Phoenix or its surrounding areas of Amaoti or Bhambayi since the unrest. He also did not know, off hand, how many people were killed in Phoenix.

Sitole said yesterday that the crime intelligence was unable to pick up early warning signals about the unrest because of a lack of technological advancements, which came down to a lack of resources.

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The national commissioner failed to provide direct answers, according to the SAHRC’s advocate Smanga Sethene, and was asked to stop dribbling like Messi.

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Political Bureau