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WATCH: Human Rights Commission to begin hearings into July unrest

Hundreds of protesters looting Letsoho shopping centre in Katlehong. File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Hundreds of protesters looting Letsoho shopping centre in Katlehong. File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 15, 2021

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The Human Rights Commission of South Africa will today begin its national investigative hearings into the July unrest that brought at least two provinces to their knees.

These hearings will be held over the next three weeks.

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The aim of the hearings is to investigate the causes of the unrest and the impact of the unrest on human rights, the Commission said.

The hearings are expected to begin this morning and will be led by Commissioner Andre Gaum as the chairperson of the hearing panel.

The rest of the panel includes deputy chairperson Chris Nissen and chief panelist, Philile Ntuli. Other external experts will be appointed by the panel if required.

The commission said it was exercising its constitutional mandate by conducting the hearing into the civil unrest and looting which swept through KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, focusing on the causes of the violence as well as the impact on human rights.

At the time, it was understood that the unrest was triggered by the Constitutional Court judgment of June 29, 2021 in which it found former president Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court.

Zuma was then sentenced to a period of 15 months imprisonment but later released on medical parole in September.

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According to the government, the death toll in KZN was 251 while in Gauteng, 42 murders were being investigated by the police and 37 inquest dockets had been opened.

Reports said claims being dealt with by the state insurance company Sasria in the wake of the unrest, amounted to R25 billion.

The police and other law enforcement authorities drew criticism for their alleged lack of preparedness and lack of visibility in the affected areas during the unrest. This led to many communities taking to the streets to protect their neighbourhoods and businesses.

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As a result, there were allegations that in certain areas, there were incidents of excessive use of force, racial profiling, assaults, arson, and killings.

The SAHRC will also investigate the social, economic, spatial and political factors prevalent in the various affected areas and the extent to which these played a role in the unrest.

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Political Bureau

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