Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted at the SA Human Rights Commission that they were not forewarned by intelligence that there would be unrest in the country.
Ramaphosa said the information they received before the riots broke out in July in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng did not point to the unrest.
He said the reports they received related to protests by some groups including those calling for the release of former president Jacob Zuma and did not specifically deal with what would happen in July in the two provinces.
The government was forced to deploy the army in the two provinces to quell the violence.
Ramaphosa said initially he had wanted 2 500 soldiers deployed, but this was increased to 10 000. However, after meeting political parties the number was increased to 25 000.
Some of the premiers and ministers were also on the ground and they could see the scale of the destruction.
The reports of expert panels have pointed to intelligence failure when the riots broke out.
Ramaphosa said they were not warned about the violence and looting.
“The provision of information of an intelligence nature is provided on an ongoing basis and some of it you would say is not tightly structured, but it is provided. Sometimes it would come from the minister, sometimes it would come from the director-general of State Security and sometimes it would (come) from the police,” said Ramaphosa.
He said there was no intelligence report that pointed to the unrest before the events happened in July.
“None of what finally eventuated was ever pinpointed that this is what is planned. I guess you could say intelligence failure, security gathering failure or should it have been known. Much of what finally happened we were not fully forewarned about it,” said Ramaphosa.
He also said he had not seen a report pointing out the details on those behind the unrest.
He said he had not seen the reports because they would have been able to identify the people behind the unrest and the malls they would target.
Police Minister Bheki Cele and former minister of State Security Ayanda Dlodlo had provided conflicting information on whether there was intelligence failure or not.
Cele denied receiving an intelligence report on the riots. But Dlodlo told the commission a few months ago that she had shared information with the police.
When asked about this by SAHRC commissioner Buang Jones, Ramaphosa said the reports he received did not point to the July unrest.
“The substance of the reports that were to be given never really alluded to finally the unrest, the details of the unrest as it unfolded. I am yet to see such a report that says this is what we knew, how it was going to unfold. I have not seen such a report myself because it would have had to say these are the planners, this is what they intend to hit. They will move from this mall to the next and all that. That was not forthcoming,” said Ramaphosa.